Scanning the skies

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Blackbirds made the headlines when a flock of thousands fell from the skies in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve.

Now bird enthusiasts across the continent are counting the birds – not just blackbirds, but birds of more than 600 species – in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

From Feb. 18–21, the event will create an instantaneous snapshot of bird life across the U.S. and Canada.

Anyone can help by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count.

At, you can enter the highest number of each species seen at any one time and watch as the tallies grow across the continent.

Coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada, the four-day count typically records more than 10 million observations.

Last year’s participants reported more than 1.8 million American robins, as well as rarities such as the rustic bunting in Creighton, Sask. The rustic bunting is a Eurasian species that does occasionally wander to North America.

“Whether people observe birds in backyards, parks, or wilderness areas, the Great Backyard Bird Count is an opportunity to share their results at,” said Judy Braus, Audubon’s vice-president of Education and Centers.

“It’s fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels – and it gets people outside.”

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

For more information, including bird-ID tips, instructions, and past results, visit The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter their bird checklists online.

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