Each year, biologists and researchers count on “you” to help them determine the health of world bird populations. As part of this international annual effort, stop by for 15 minutes or sit a spell during a free public birding event at the Ernie Miller Nature Center on Feb. 18. This will be the tenth year the local nature center is participating in the nationwide bird count, which is now in its 20th year.
The event is called the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) and will take place from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. in the comfort of the Wildlife Viewing Room at the nature center, located at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe. Participants can learn about birds which spend their winters in northeast Kansas from experienced birders with the Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City. Likely candidates for viewing include northern cardinals, black-capped chickadees, American goldfinches, red-tailed hawks, and more. No reservations or registration is required for this event.
The GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how the birds are doing, and how to protect them. Last year, participants from more than 100 countries turned in more than 162,050 checklists. Altogether, bird watchers identified 5,689 species, including more than 616 species in the United States.
More information on the international count can be found at www.birdcount.org. For more information on the local event contact the nature center at (913) 764-7759. To find this program in the JCPRD’s Activities catalog and online listings, browse first under fun for all and then under special events.
The nature center also continues to seek donations of supplies for both the animals kept at the center and the wild animals which come to the feeders.  Among the items being sought are: bags of safflower or black oil sunflower seeds (no mixes, please); suet cakes and dried seed corn on the cob; and rolls of quarter-inch and three-eighths-inch sisal rope for owl perches.