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Great Backyard Bird Count kicks off around the world

Today is the start of the Audubon Society’s 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

The worldwide event, which runs until Monday, Feb. 17, aims to get a count of birds by having people document the number of each species found in their backyard.

During an at least 15 minute period, people are asked to observe their yards and count how many of each species they find.

The results are then entered into gbbc.birdcount.org.

Terry Taylor with the Austin chapter of the Audubon Society said this is citizen science.

“It gives us a good indication of how those species that spend the year-round here are faring,” he said.

By having a large number of residents report their findings, the Society gets a good set of data about bird populations, Taylor said.

While local trends have not been seen, on a global level, Taylor said populations are decreasing.

“There is a very significant decline,” he said.

The types of birds that can be found staying for winter in Minnesota include woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays. In total, the Audubon Society has counted about 40 species of birds that stay for the winter.

At least in Minnesota, the cold winter means birds are more likely to stay in one place, which reduces the risk of having multiple residents count the same birds, Taylor said.

“Those birds aren’t moving around a great deal in the winter time,” he said.

The Audubon Society’s Austin Chapter will be at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 15, to do feeder counts. People can attend the event to learn more about doing their own count, Taylor said.

More information about the Austin chapter can be found on its Facebook page.