The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Event keeps count of bird species, habits over time

February 10, 2020 | Laura King-Homan | arboretum, trees
Great Backyard Bird Count, White-throated Sparrow (zonotrichia albicollis) perched on a tree limb in falling snow

Amateur bird watchers of all ages are invited to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count event Feb. 14-17.

The annual event began in 1998 as the first, online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds. Participants simply create an account on the event’s website, and download a tally sheet.

During the event, you can tally the kinds of birds you see from any location. OPPD’s arboretum at 108th and Blondo streets in Omaha is a great place to find birds in their natural habitat. It’s also a great weekend activity the whole family can do together.

In 2019, event participants in more than 100 countries counted more than 6,800 species of birds on more than 200,000 checklists.

Why count birds?

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, sponsors of the event, scientists and bird lovers can learn a lot by knowing the location of fluctuating bird populations. Having a large number of people document the distribution of birds help to determine their movements.

The longer events such as the Great Backyard Bird Count occur, the more meaningful data scientists can capture. They are looking to answer some of these questions about birds:

  • How does weather and climate change affect bird populations?
  • Why do some birds appear in large numbers some years but not others?
  • How do the birds’ migrations compare year-over-year?
  • What kinds of bird diversity are found in urban areas versus suburban and rural versus natural areas?

The Great Backyard Bird Count runs for four days beginning Feb. 14. Grab a pair of binoculars and a checklist and join in the fun.

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the supervisor, Brand and Communication Operations, at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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