February 3, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT RETURNS
CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG LOOKS TO TOP NATION IN PARTICIPATION
Charlotte, NC - The Great Backyard Bird Count returns for its ninth season February 17 - 20, 2006. Bird enthusiasts of all ages can share their love of birds with a friend, a child, a scout troop, a class, or a co-worker - opening new eyes to the joy of birding and the fun of creating a unique snapshot of winter bird abundance and distribution across the continent. Every pair of eyes is needed and every bird counts, whether in a backyard, park, nature preserve, greenway, or schoolyard.
Mecklenburg County, with its 17,000-acre park system and tree-filled neighborhoods, provides numerous opportunities for birdwatchers. Last year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg submitted the second highest number of checklists of any community in the country.
"Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon, and Wild Birds Unlimited would like to extend a warm thanks to the residents of Charlotte, NC, and surrounding communities for their participation in the count. Charlotte showed exemplary effort with over 330 checklists providing insight into the distribution and abundance of 83 different species," said Alison Wells, Communications Director at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
For the first time, the Lab of Ornithology and Audubon are launching an element of friendly competition. Awards will be given to localities that submit the most checklists, record the greatest number species, or count the highest number of birds. Local groups promoting the Great Backyard Bird Count include Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, Mecklenburg Audubon Society, Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary, and Carolina Raptor Center. All hope interest will rival that in 2003 and 2004 when Charlotte topped the nation in participation.
Judy Walker, president of Mecklenburg Audubon, looks forward to the challenge. "Most importantly, the count contributes valuable information on the status of our wintering bird species, but the chance to show that the birding community is so active in the region is equally appealing."
Anyone from beginning bird watchers to seasoned experts can participate. During the count, bird watchers tally birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they like, keeping track of the highest number of each bird species they see together at one time. Participants enter their numbers online at
www.birdsource.org/gbbc and can explore sightings maps, lists, and charts as the count progresses. This site can also be accessed through
www.parkandrec.com, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Web site, which includes tips on local bird identification, places to observe, and bird feeding in general.