Island library joins Great Backyard Bird Count


400-anastasia-birdwatchingOver the last couple of years, Harold George informed local Historic City News reporters that the Anastasia Island Library has witnessed a huge response to their programs that focus on the environment, birds and our natural resources.

Because of this response, the Anastasia Island Library created a multifaceted program for our community that included bird lectures, a birdhouse decorating contest, haiku poetry contest, and, this year, they have stepped up as a community sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

“We hope to encourage our youth, as well as our adult population, to be informed stewards of our natural environment,” George told reporters. “To accomplish that goal, we want to provide educational and informative programs that focus on our local community resources.”

In an annual event that spans over four days between February 15 and 18, 2013, participants with all levels of skill, from first timers to seasoned birders, will count and report the birds they see to the Great Backyard Bird Count special website.

Why Count Birds?

Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are.

Bird populations are dynamic and constantly in flux.

No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.

Scientists use the Great Backyard Bird Count information, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations.

Last year, George told Historic City News that St. Augustine came in 5th place nationally; identifying and reporting the most species in a locality — with 155 species identified.

The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions:

• How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
• How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
• How will the weather influence bird populations?
• What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited. Its purpose is to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are throughout the world. The data is used as a scientific base for many studies.