Bird watchers around the state can participate in two essential studies on winter bird populations simply by keeping a watchful eye.
According to the Kansas Deparment of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism the first study is going on right now, through Sunday. The Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey will be followed by the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 14–17.
Participants of the Winter Bird Feeder Survey are asked to observe and record the number and species of birds visiting their backyard feeders on two consecutive days between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2. Watchers can report the results by downloading the survey form found on www.ksoutdoors.com, and mailing it in. Information gleaned from this survey will help the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism track songbird population trends and types of feed that are most attractive to backyard birds.
During the two-day survey, birders are encouraged to record the times of day they observed birds, the number of each species seen, along with a description of their feeders using the form provided. Each species should be listed by the highest number seen together at any one time. For example, if 10 juncos are seen at 9 a.m., 11 at 12 p.m., and seven at 4 p.m., the number recorded would then be 11.
Following the Winter Bird Feeder Survey, birders can also participate in the GBBC beginning Feb. 14. Unlike the Winter Bird Feeder Survey where participants view birds at a feeder for any length of time, the annual GBBC asks participants to watch birds at any location for a minimum of 15 minutes. This effort aids in better defining bird ranges, populations, migration pathways, and habitat needs. Participants then tally the numbers of each species seen, and report their observations online at www.birdcount.org.
This will be the last year that Kansas has a separate Winter Bird Feeder Survey as future surveys will be integrated with the GBBC. This change will allow participants to enter their data online, eliminating mail-in data forms, and will also allow researchers better access to recorded data. In the future, participants and other Ebird users will also be able to view the data and interactive maps developed with the data entered online.
Global participation will be made possible by www.ebird.org, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon are integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year. The four-day event will receive sightings from tens of thousands of participants who may record more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.