A family winter excursion in your own backyard!

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By Beth Pinyerd
For the Opelika
Observer

Readers, let’s embark on “The Great Backyard Bird Count” Feb. 15-18, an educational adventure for the whole family.
My personal experience with this adventure over the years has included classrooms of my students, Boy and Girl scouts, church fellowships, as well as senior adults. This is a wonderful experience for everyone.
Visit gbbc.birdcount.org to sign up for this free, fun event that will help broaden your understanding of the bird populations. Instructions are very clear on how to get started.
Participating bird watchers are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes or as long as they wish on one or more days of the 4-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Beginning or seasoned bird watchers can participate from their home, backyard, or anywhere in the world. The checklists that are submitted during the event helps researchers at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, how to protect them and the environment we share.
Infants and toddlers are very observant of their surroundings. When my son was an infant, we hung an inexpensive bird feeder outside our kitchen door where he could observe birds from his highchair coming and going to the feeder. He would scream with delight when birds would come up and feed.
Buy an inexpensive bird guide or check out books from the library for your children. If the weather is nice, take your children to a park, a wide-open space, pond or lake. Birds with color such as blue jays, cardinals and green mallards are ones that your child can quickly see and identify them by color and sounds.
Senior adults in facilities or in their own homes can participate in activities in counting birds in the Greater Backyard Bird Count. I have volunteered in several senior facilities that hang bird feeders year-round outside the windows of bed-ridden resident’s rooms. This keeps the mind engaged and active to observe and count the different birds. This can be done in homes as well.
Let’s go grab our binoculars. Happy bird watching!

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