If you have 15 minutes to spare this weekend, you can join the Great Backyard Bird Count, a worldwide citizen-science effort that begins Friday and continues through Monday.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society orchestrate the count. During last year’s count, bird watchers from 100 countries submitted 210,000 checklists reporting a record 6,850 species.
Ridgefield resident Susan Setterberg, 71, a member of the local Audubon chapter, has participated in years past.
“It’s fun counting birds in your backyard for the weekend,” Setterberg said. “I’ve been into birds for about 45 years. It’s a great way to get out into nature. It really tunes you into the environment. Birds are kind of a bellwether.”
North American bird populations have dropped by 3 billion, or 29 percent, since 1970, according to study published in the journal Science last year. A report by Audubon scientists, “Survival by Degrees,” projects nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species could disappear due to climate change.
“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff said in a press release. “Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”
To participate, go online to gbbc.birdcount.org for instructions. Then watch for birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days between Feb. 14 and Feb. 17 and keep track of the number and type of birds you see. Submit a checklist online for each bird-watching session.