This Friday is the start of the 2010 Great Backyard Bird Count. This citizen science project, run by Audubon and Cornell and sponsored now in Canada by Bird Studies Canada, gathers data over one weekend each February. It requires just fifteen minutes (or more if you'd like) of your time.
Although it is called the Great BACKYARD Bird Count, you are not restricted to backyards or feeders. I consider my backyard to be pretty big, and it is Great. The premise behind the count is pretty simple. Spend at least fifteen minutes observing birds, count the numbers you see and submit your results online here. Submit the number of the most individuals (per species) that you see at one time. For example, say you see five Ravens, then later you see three, then still later you see seven, and still later you see four. The number you would submit for that count is Seven as that is the most individuals you saw at any one time.
The count goes on for four days (the 12 to the 15th of February) and you can submit one checklist for each day (you can submit more than one per day but only for different locations). Its easy to do and results are updated on line in pretty much real time.
Traditionally there are very few participants in Nunavut, which is somewhat understandable given its the height of winter, cold and there are very few species around. But it really doesn't have to be that way, counts can be done from the comfort of your own home, or you can use the count as a great excuse to get out and spend some time out of doors. The data is important, even if you think you are counting ONLY Ravens (don't diss my favourite bird).
To help encourage more participation from Nunavut I'll offer up a bit of a prize. If you submit even one count for the GBBC in Nunavut, let me know by email (the address is on the sidebar) or by Facebook. I'm the reviewer of checklists for Nunavut so I'll confirm the count was done on line. I'll draw one name from those participants and the winner will get a copy of a book of bird photos I took here in Arctic Bay. Okay, maybe that isn't a lot of incentive, but think of the good your data will do.