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Kids Can Join the Great Backyard Bird Count Feb 16-19!

You might be able to include a bald eagle in your tally during the Great Backyard Bird Count starting tomorrow, especially if you go out to Discovery Park.

While the idea of “birding” may conjure up the image of an elderly gentleman in safari shorts and binoculars the size of a small car, “bird counting” is something the whole family can enjoy – together! Plan to join the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), scheduled this year for Friday, February 16 through Monday, February 19. The purpose of the event – sponsored by National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada is to create a real-time picture of bird populations throughout the world.

Your family’s sightings will be reported online at birdcount.org, where each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. All it takes to participate is signing up and for at least one of the four days, looking for birds for a minimum 15 minute-stretch.  

To get an idea of what birds you might expect to find in your area, go here for a printable checklist list of birds by zip code.  When you go to the Great Backyard Bird Count website to sign up, you'll get several links to websites that provide photos of birds to help your identification skills. 

Should your family succumb to the birding bug, there are a number of local opportunities to pursue the passion:

•  Seattle Audubon Society offers year ‘round field trips (beginners encouraged) and casual neighborhood bird walks, as well as special programs for nature-loving teens.

•  Seattle Parks and Recreation offers a variety of nature programs, some of which are devoted to birding. Primo local spots include Magnuson, Lincoln, Carkeek and Discovery parks.

• A number of guide companies offer bald eagle-viewing float trips, most often on the Skagit River. Or contact the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center for more information.

• Purchase a bird guide and be on your way!

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