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STEM Takes Wing!

Watching birds is fun. And when lots of people compile and compare their sightings, it can help researchers get the “big picture” on what’s happening to bird populations and understand such influences as climate change and the spread of bird diseases like West Nile virus.

One of the oldest and biggest of these citizen-science projects is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, held this year from February 17 to 20. Launched in 1998 by Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, the initiative has grown to involve more than 162,000 bird watchers around the world who in 2016 counted more than 18.6 million birds representing 5,689 different species.

Observations from  other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, also add to the knowledge base.

So grab some binoculars and start counting!

Check out the Audubon Society activities, including the the February eBirder of the month photo contest, as well as the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s webinar [YouTube 1:04] for teachers on how to engage students and bring young people and the community into the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count.

cover photo shows the Binocular Boot Camp hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Bear River Refuge for the Christmas Bird Count for Kids, Dec. 4, 2010. Credit: Jason St. Sauver/USFWS

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