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Join the Great Backyard Bird Count 2012

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker Credit: Linda Pizer

Looking for something fun to do over Presidents Weekend? How about counting birds? You can participate in the 4-day-long annual Backyard Bird Count simply by looking out your window and counting the birds you see in your backyard, office parking lot, dark alley, or wherever you might be lurking.

If you submit a checklist noting the species you see, you'll even get to call yourself a "citizen scientist." The checklists, provided by researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, will help scientists learn more about how the birds are doing, how they're migrating  and how to protect them.

You don't need to be a bird expert to participate, and you can count birds for as little as 15 minutes or tirelessly for the entire 4-day length of the official Bird Count, from Feb. 17-20. When you're done, log in to and record your findings. The website will display real-time maps and charts that will reflect what others are reporting during the count. And if you're not an expert, the site also provides tips to help identify birds.

And if you want to get out of the virtual and into the real, you can head to Red House Nature Center at inlet Pond County Park (65275 Rte. 48, Greenport) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, and count with like-minded bird watchers. There's a suggested donation of $5 per family, and you'll even get to make your own bird feeder and learn how to identify all the winter birds in your own back yard.  North Fork Audubon members will be on hand to show you how to use binoculars.


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