Looking for a COVID-safe way to involve your congregation in an outdoor winter activity? The Great Backyard Bird Count was made for times such as these. Families and individuals choose a 15-minute block of time, at least once, over the four days, Friday through Monday, February 18-21 to identify and count the birds they see in their yard or neighborhood.
To get started, ask your congregation members to go to www.birdcount.org and follow the directions or download the eBird and Merlin Bird ID apps on their phones. They can count and keep track of the birds they see with eBird if they know the name of the bird. The eBird app also allows them to choose a bird list and install it. i.e., the North Carolina “pack” or NC South Mountains.
The Merlin Bird app helps them identify the birds that they see by answering a few simple questions: where, when, size, color… Photos of a few birds that meet the description show up and they select the closest match. Merlin also offers the option to identify birds by sound or from a photo. You can also enter your list in eBird through Merlin.
People in your congregation can record bird counts individually or you can set up a group account so that all the birds people see are counted together. Go to https://www.birdcount.org/group-counts/ and choose the group that fits how your congregation is participating in the Bird Count.
Your congregation will be joining people from around the world who come together at the same time to watch, learn about, count, and celebrate birds. Because bird populations vary due to seasonal patterns and migration, tracking them requires a lot of help. This is “citizen-science” and your congregation is needed to be part of this global project.
What a good excuse to look outside or get out and enjoy the world that our Creator has made and called good on a cold winter day!