• From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To:
  • Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 12:28:44 -0500

Contact: John Bianchi


Pioneer Web-based Count Spotlights WatchList Birds and West Nile Virus

Ivyland, PA, Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - All across the Americas, our
birds face survival challenges from loss of habitat to introduced predators
to diseases like West Nile Virus.  The Sixth Annual Great Backyard Bird
Count (GBBC), February 14-17, will focus on the effects of these threats,
bring conservation home by telling participants what they can do to help,
and add vital new information to our understanding of our birds and their

Once again, the National Audubon Society and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
call on volunteers of every age and skill level to make the Count possible.
"We need every birder to join us," said Audubon Senior Vice President of
Science Frank Gill.  "The Great Backyard Bird Count has become a important
means of gathering data to help birds, but it can't happen unless people
take part.  Whether you're a novice or an expert, we need you to take part
and help us help birds."

Audubon and Cornell are asking participants to pay special attention to the
more than 200 species on the Audubon 2002 WatchList, issued last autumn,
which lists North American birds in danger or decline.  "WatchList is an
early-warning system designed to raise awareness of birds in trouble, before
they become endangered or threatened," explained Audubon's Gill. "Think of
it as preventative medicine, protecting our great natural heritage." The
GBBC website www.birdsource.org/gbbc includes features on these birds and
what participants can do to help them.

The GBBC will also focus on the effects of West Nile Virus on crows and
jays, owls, raptors and other birds, and will educate participants about the
disease.  "We need as many volunteer counters as possible to tell us what
they see," said Sally Conyne, Audubon Director of Special Projects.  "The
GBBC can serve to educate people about the real effects of the disease, and
will help our scientists reach a better understanding."

The GBBC combines high-tech web tools with an army of citizen-scientist bird
observers.  The Count asks families, individuals, classrooms, and community
groups to count the numbers and kinds of birds that visit their feeders,
local parks, schoolyards, and other areas during any or all of the four
count days.  Participants enter their sightings at www.birdsource.org/gbbc .
The state-of-the-art website was developed by Audubon and the Cornell Lab.
GBBC is sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited stores.

Begun in 1998, the GBBC has engaged more than a quarter-million Americans of
all ages and backgrounds, and united them in the effort to keep common birds
common.  In 2002, more than 47,000 participants counted millions of birds
throughout North America, helping reveal information on Evening Grosbeaks,
Snowy Owls, Collared Doves, and many other birds.

"When the last Ivory-billed Woodpecker was seen in the 1930s, there was no
concrete way for citizens to help professional ornithologists monitor bird
populations," says Cornell Lab of Ornithology Director John Fitzpatrick, who
this past year led an expedition to rediscover the Ivory Bill, possibly
North America's rarest bird.  "We cannot allow other species to face the
same fate as the Ivory-bill.  The Great Backyard Bird Count provides a way
for citizens to help us determine which birds are where, and in what
numbers, so we can take steps to protect those that need protecting."

The GBBC site invites beginners and experts alike to participate, providing
useful information to make participation easy and enjoyable.  There is a
vocabulary section, bird-watching and bird-feeding tips, bird vocalizations,
and more, including information about House Finch eye disease.  Educators
will find the bibliography and geography sections especially handy; as well
as suggestions on how to conduct the Count with groups of children.  For
those tired of winter and ready for spring, there will be tips about
planning and preparing for the spring bird garden.

Instructions can be found at www.birdsource.org .  There's no fee or
registration.  Those who would like to participate but aren't online can try
their local library, and many Wild Birds Unlimited stores accept reports.
Libraries, businesses, nature clubs, Scout troops and other community
organizations interested in promoting the GBBC or getting involved can
contact Sally Conyne at Audubon, at 215/355-9588, ext. 16; or the Cornell
Lab of Ornithology at 800/ 843-2473.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution interpreting and
conserving the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and
citizen science focused on birds.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat
that supports them.  Our national network of community-based nature centers
and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of
areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of
all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

#   #   #

Other related posts: