This weekend, I get to do The Great Backyard Bird Count with my sister, who is visiting from Des Moines.
The GBBC is an annual, worldwide event that takes place Friday, February 12 through Monday, February 15.
To participate, we simply watch birds for 15 minutes or more at least once over the four days, and submit our data for scientific research.
Do you remember the Pokemon Go craze a couple of years ago? The GBBC is a lot like that.
To prepare for the event, my sister and I started using Merlin, an app to help identify birds, and Ebird, a separate app to track our sightings and to explore what other birds are being sighted in the area.
We had grand plans to go to a local nature reserve or wildlife refuge to do our count. But we have just returned from four full days of birding in South Central Texas. We’re a little sunburned and mosquito-bitten, and the weather has turned bitterly cold. Yes–cold even by Iowa standards.
I think we will stay home and count the birds in my own backyard, where there’s still plenty of action. A pair of house finches have recently found our bird feeder. And just this afternoon I noticed a red-shouldered hawk keeping the squirrel population at bay.