Female and Northern Cardinals perch outside the Howard County Conservancy. The Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 15-18 around the world.
Female and Northern Cardinals perch outside the Howard County Conservancy. The Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 15-18 around the world. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun file)

Last year, 168 different bird species were identified in Maryland during the Great Backyard Bird Count, from 3,124 individual checklists from birders.

Eighty-eight of those species were found in Carroll County on 160 different checklists — with red-winged blackbirds and Canada geese topping the charts with 300 and 120 seen, respectively.

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The GBBC — a worldwide collaboration between birders, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Bird Studies Canada — is entering its 21st year collecting data on birds across the globe, with the 2019 count scheduled for this weekend, Feb. 15-18.

Anyone can participate, and the GBBC recommends counting birds anywhere as long as it is for 15 minutes or longer. Birders then make their best estimates of how many birds of each species they saw and enter the data at www.birdcount.org.

At Carroll County Public Library’s North Carroll branch, Hampstead resident Linda Renick gave a tutorial on participating in the annual bird count Saturday, Feb. 9.

She said it will be important to put new checklists in for each new day, each different location and each different time.

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“If you see multiple birds,” she told the group of about 10, “count as many as you can at one time.”

For example, she said, if six chickadees are observed at once, and then you see three in one spot and two somewhere else, they are most likely of the same six.

“It’s four days. Pick 15 minutes out, and you can do a lot or you can do a little,” Renick said. “And it’s really good for kids because it’s not hard.”

For those who are uncertain of the different species of birds seen locally, she recommended downloading the phone app Merlin, which helps narrow down bird species by first asking about the size — using images for a guide — then up to three colors, and even has sample bird calls to compare the sounds.

According to 2018 GBBC data, Carroll County’s birding hot spots are Piney Run Park, Study Road Pond, Hashawha Environmental Center, Cranberry Reservoir, Little Pipe Creek Park and Union Mills Wetland.

More information on the bird count can be found at gbbc.birdcount.org.

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