WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 14, 2011 AT 1:45 PM EST - The U.S Forest Service is encouraging the public to consider a forest or grassland as their "backyard" for the Great Backyard Bird Count, a long-running citizen science program spearheaded by Cornell University that creates a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent.
Participants in the winter Great Backyard Bird Count can spend as little as 15 minutes a day between Feb. 18 and 21 to tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. Those numbers are entered into the Great Backyard Bird Count website database, which is used by researchers.
"We are continuing our work at the U.S. Forest Service to maintain and restore our forests while providing an exhilarating outdoor experience for millions of Americans," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "What better way to enjoy the outdoors than to participate in bird research as citizen scientists and to do it in some of the most beautiful scenic areas our country has to offer."
Bird research is important to help maintain and restore habitats necessary to sustain healthy migratory and resident bird populations. The Forest Service is an international leader in bird conservation through the Wings Across the Americas program and has been a strong leader in scientifically rigorous bird population monitoring through the development of the Integrated Monitoring Bird Conservations Regions program.