Here’s a wintertime activity you can enjoy with your grandkids whether they live near or far, while you all become ‘citizen scientists’! Join the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count from February 15th – 18th and help scientists learn what kind of birds are being seen in the winter and whether there are fewer of them than before.
It’s easy to participate. You count birds you see, for example, in your backyard, in the park or at your grand’s school for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the GBBC. You can count for longer, if you wish and in as many places and on as many days as you like of the four-day event. Here’s the link to the Great Backyard Bird Count site: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/kids
The site has an online bird guide; instructions on how to participate (including how to submit your photos of the birds); and special activities for children.
The GBBC gives us a snapshot of how birds are surviving the winter and where they are located just before spring migrations begin in March. Scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and elsewhere can combine this information with data from surveys conducted at different times of the year.
The information you submit can provide the first sign that individual species may be increasing or declining from year to year. Data gathered over many years help highlight how a species’ range may be expanding or shrinking. A big change, noted consistently over a period of years, is an indication that something is happening in the environment that is affecting the birds and that should be studied. GBBC information also provides information about what kinds of birds inhabit different areas, such as cities versus suburbs.
Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count will help your preschool grandchildren develop school readiness skills, while helping improve skills needed for success in school and life for older grands through activities such as math (counting the number of birds and identifying birds by categories such as colors, head shape); language and communication about the birds they see; planning and organizing their participation in the GBBC.
This is a fun, learning experience you can share with your grands whether you do so in person or long distance. And, it’s the experiences your grandchildren have that help them develop mentally, emotionally, socially and physically, laying the foundation for success in school and later life!