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Start someone bird watching

 

By Paul Baicich

Birding Community E-bulletin

 

February is a perfect time to introduce new people to birds. Some folks think that spring migration - say, May - is the ideal time, but this is probably a mistake. Indeed, birds in migration are wonderful - in full color and song - but the experience can be too overwhelming, a veritable bird overload. Too much in the way of birds - or of any new experience - can actually discourage people, creating the perception that there is simply too much to learn!

This month is ideal for a modest and digestible introduction to birds. Winter birds are stable, relatively limited, and often wonderfully accessible. Take wintering waterfowl, or a popular staked-out (but non-harassed) Snowy Owl. It’s the right time to bring along a neighbor or friend - who may already be curious because of a backyard feeder - for a short and simple birding trip.

This opportunity also conveniently overlaps with the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), 13-16 February. This effort is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Tens of thousands of volunteers - of all ages and birding skill levels - will count birds in backyards, local parks, refuges, and wherever they happen to be. This free, family-friendly, and neighbor-friendly activity is an ideal introductory “citizen-science” effort involving bird discovery. Visit the GBBC website to explore the opportunities:

http://gbbc.birdcount.org/

This year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is incorporating Pledge to Fledge, originally launched by the Global Birding Initiative, into the GBBC:

http://gbbc.birdcount.org/pledge-to-fledge/

All these opportunities combine to make February the time to invite some new people - family, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances - to join in a bird search and introduce them to the joy of watching and studying wild birds.