Many star watchers are also bird lovers. This wekend, from Feb. 18-21, you can participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is a wonderful way to participate in Citizen Science, where your observations become a significant source of information about the bird population in North America. It's also a fun family activity and a great way to introduce your children to the scientific method and what can be done with something so seemingly simple as a count of birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site will show real-time updates of the count and results of research based on it. Your count sheet is also worth saving. I have looked back on mine over the years, and it brings back many happy memories of the day. So get in on the fun now.
One tip to see as many birds as possible: Start putting out bird seed now to attract birds to your back yard. (No, this is not cheating!) You don't even need a bird feeder. Many birds are ground feeders, so they won't even come to your backyard bird feeder. The best seed is just plain sunflower seed that can be bought in 5-10+ pound bags in the grocery store. Many so-called "song bird mixes" have waste seed that the birds will not touch. They are not a good buy. But just about every backyard bird in America will eat plain sunflower seed. Just throw out a few handfuls, preferably near bushes, as birds like a protected area to feed from. But, if you have an outdoor feeder, that's OK, too.
Unfortunately, the GBBC is only hosted in the United States. We need someone to start this up in Israel. Any takers out there?
Keep on looking up, and, this weekend, out!