Evening Grosbeak MaleIn just a few weeks, it will be time once again for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The event takes place over the President’s Day weekend, beginning Friday, Feb. 15 and ending Monday, Feb. 18.

For the second year in a row, Jay’s Bird Barn will be hosting free guided bird walks on three of these days. Last year, several individuals in the Prescott area opened up their homes and allowed Jay’s Bird Barn to bring groups of birders to their yards. This year, we are once again looking for individuals who are willing to host a group of bird watchers at their homes. Our goal is to visit three or four yards over a four hour period and count the total number of birds observed, along with identifying the different varieties of birds we observe.

If you are willing to host a group of birders, please call the store at 443-5900 and let me know. If you are a birder wanting to participate in one of the bird walks please call the store to sign up, as each group is limited to twelve individuals. The dates for the Great Backyard Bird Count bird walks are Friday, Feb. 15, Saturday the 16, and Monday the 18.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an example of Citizen Scientist at work. By participating, you are contributing to a national database on bird populations and species distribution. Each year as these numbers are tallied, a clearer picture emerges where bird species are occurring and the population status of hundreds of bird species throughout North America.

Last year, over 100,000 checklists were submitted, 623 different species of birds were observed and the total number of birds observed was over 17 million! The more people we can get involved in the local area, the greater the validity of the data for our specific area.

For more information about the Great Backyard Bird Count visit the official website at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/. One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to restrict your bird watching activity just to your yard. You can go anywhere and count the birds you observe. It doesn’t cost anything to participate; you simply conduct a bird ‘census’ on any or all of the count days, and submit a checklist by email for each of the days you participate.

Tonight, at 7 p.m., Micah Riegner will be presenting the monthly membership program for the Prescott Audubon Society chapter. Micah will share fabulous pictures and interesting stories about his summer-long adventure in the jungles of Brazil.

Last year, at the ripe old age of 18, only days after graduating from Prescott High School, Micah flew to South America where he worked as a guide leading bird watching trips out of Manaus, Brazil. While in Brazil, Micah was invited to participate with a research group from the University of Louisiana as they searched previously unexplored regions of the Amazon. Micah had the unique experience of helping to discover at least one previously unknown species!

The meeting is free and open to the public. Prescott Audubon meetings take place in the Fellowship Hall at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 630 Park Ave. I hope to see you there!

One final note, we are already receiving reports of hummingbirds showing up! If you see a hummingbird, quickly get a feeder out to help sustain it through the remainder of the winter. Remember to bring the feeder in at night so the nectar won’t freeze.