By Martha Leary
It’s February and time for the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Sponsored by the Audubon Society, this bird count is easy peasy. Watch in your own backyard for as little 15 minutes or take a short winter hike in your favourite part of the Backlands and send the record of your observations to birdcount.org Information from their websites tells us: “Recently, more than 300,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.” With bird numbers declining, your input helps us learn more about what kinds of measures help bird populations to be successful during these times of climate change.
David Patriquin and the Backlands Coalition have created a special project on iNaturalist to help us understand the natural world of birds, plants, fungi and animals in the Backlands. If you are within the Backlands and record your observations on iNaturalist, your observations will be tallied on the project Halifax Backlands for the use of all https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/halifax-ns-backlands
A small band of Backlands Coalition Birders are going on an Owl Survey during this Great Backyard Bird Count. We will be gathering to observe owls in the Backlands on February 19 in the very early morning. Our first instructions are in how to close the car door so as not to tip off the nearby owls. We will travel by car to about 9 locations around the Backlands from Shaw Wilderness Park to Spryfield’s Governor’s Brook wildlands. Led by our experienced birder, Fulton Lavender, we will listen and wait for signs of owl activity. Identification begins by sound.
Some areas around the Backlands are known to be home to a certain species of owl. Each species has its own special call. The stereotypical ‘who- who’ has many variations. Here are samples of some owl calls https://www.audubon.org/news/learn-identify-five-owls-their-calls We hope to hear a Great Horned Owl https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl, possibly an Eastern Screech Owl https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Screech-Owl/sounds and Barred Owls https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barred_Owl .
We will record our observations with the Great Backyard Bird Count and iNaturalist
If you are new to birding, one of our Backlands members, Katie Studholme, recommends an article in Audubon called “A Beginners Guide to eBird” https://www.audubon.org/news/a-beginners-guide-ebird Just get out there and enjoy the Backlands. Winter is great fun.