Southern California

The Great Backyard Bird Count: It's On

Assist Audubon in knowing more about our feathery friends.

If you've ever broken out the old-timey phrase "what a day for ducks!," you were likely referring to soggy or damp weather, the kind of weather we imagine waterfowl might be excited about.

Ducks, let it be said, haven't yet been interviewed on this particular topic, as far as we know, so a final determination is still outstanding.

Soggy weather has arrived in Southern California, though, on the very day when one of the biggest bird-focused events around officially begins. It's The Great Backyard Bird Count, and people around the world will head outside from Friday, Feb. 17 through Monday, Feb. 20.

Not only will they be enjoying some fresh air, but bird buffs will be taking a look up in the trees, the sky, and all around, all to assist scientists in knowing more about those feathery, on-the-wing wonders who flit about our homes.

You don't need a degree in ornithological research to participate, however. "You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!," says the online HQ for The Great Backyard Bird Count.

The count, which was started by National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab for Ornithology, will turn 20 in 2018.

How to get your wings flapping on this project? Best register first — it is a brief set-up — and then commit to just 15 minutes of bird-counting. And that's not 15 minutes each day of The Great Backyard Bird Count, should that seem like a big time commitment.

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Rather, you can choose your day, any part of the day, and count for just half of a half hour. (Though organizers do note you can, of course, spend more time observing during the long weekend.)

Just know that you'll be joining scores of sky watchers doing the very same thing you're doing. Some 160,000 people participate in the count, share the organizers.

Many people around our region have volunteered with "citizen scientist" programs through the Natural History Museum and other organizations. If you've wanted to participate in something that connects you with the natural world just beyond your front door, this birdly celebration is a good start.

What will you see, Southern California? A spotted sandpiper, dashing along the sand outside your window? A cactus wren perched upon the prickly pear near your kitchen? A crow holding court on the lightpost down the street?

One good thing to know, among many good things to know: Despite the catchy name, you don't have to stick to your home's immediate environs. A park is okay, or your favorite stretch of beach. Chirp your way over the FAQ so you can stick your beak into all of the helpful must-knows.

Ready to join avian enthusiasts the world over, all during the Presidents Weekend? Give 15 minutes and help science know more about those cherished sky soarers, our bird friends.

Yes, and lake- and stream-dwellers, too. It may be a day, or weekend, for ducks, but finding a few feather-rocking wonders around SoCal may be as easy as looking out your front window.

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