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The Importance of Birds

07/01/2010
flock of finches in winter

Count the Finches!

A few years ago I took part in “Project Feeder Watch” and spent a little time counting and recording the bird sightings in my backyard.  Once a week I went online and posted the results of my counts where I was able to see who had seen what in my neck of the woods.  Even though my sightings might have seemed boring and ordinary, FeederWatch personnel assured us that all counts were important. It was a fun, learning experience and I was able to help with the scientific study at the same time.

In order to count the birds of a species I had to know what it was I was counting and it gave me an opportunity to learn about the birds living around New Hampshire and the ones that would only show up in winter (when we counted). I grew up in Massachusetts where my parents and grandparents always fed the birds and I recognized some of the same ones I’d grown up seeing in my backyard.

I even got interested in what to feed them to keep them coming back or to attract some interesting birds. I learned to make my own suet, and find the best feeders to use. I also found out the hard way that I had to stop feeding them in Spring when the bears would come and tear up my feeders!

Then I moved, and moved and moved…so I gave up my birdwatching, but when and if I get the chance again I would love to contribute once more.

It’s probably why I still get updates from the Cornell Lab of Orinthology, the people who runs the bird counts, and today received an update on what is being done down on the gulf coast.

It’s reassuring to know that some places are being diligently protected, such as Breton Island (slide show), home to thousands of birds who make their home near the water in Louisiana. But as the writer pointed out, the birds don’t recognize the danger. When there are clean islands nearby, they choose to stay and forage in the oil soaked waters. He also says that to try and save the ones that are in danger would be more disastrous than to leave them alone.

Watching all birds is serious business for these scientist who use the data to record falling numbers or population explosions. What happens with birds does affect the world around us.

A reader left a comment here on my site that she is afraid that many unscrupulous places will try to take our money to help and do nothing, but I believe, because of their long history of helping birds, that this is one place that will put it to good use.

By the way, if you live near the Gulf they need watchers to report on what is going on with the birds there.

Check out their site at Cornell Labs where you can read more about the Gulf oil and it’s effects and donate to their efforts if you are so inclined.  And if you want to be part of the seasonal counting in your area, click the link at the beginning of this post.

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