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Got 15 Minutes? Become a Citizen Scientist This Weekend

For four days starting Friday, anybody can be a birder and a citizen scientist. The Great Backyard Bird Count, now in its 13th year, is the first bird census of its size to have its tally be all online.

Unlike more hardcore events like the Christmast Bird Count, which requires all-day spotting, the GBBC is for all levels and you only have to commit to 15 minutes. You can bop around anywhere you want in the four days –February 12-25–and then submit your report online.

“It’s a neat way of getting school and scout groups,” involved, says Audubon’s Geoff LeBaron, , [all] kids a way of get them going

Worried you won’t know your birds well enough? They have some pointers on how to tell apart tricky pairs. To me, they look like those games where you try to tell one seemingly identical picture from another.

If you’re competitive, check out their photo contest, which has several categories. I thought the “People Enjoying Birds” would be a lame one, but I was wrong. Check out last year’s winner, Harry Mueller of Manitoba took an amazing shot of a woman pouring thistle into a feeder while four eager sparrows perched on her hat and mitten. Just shows how much fun you can have with even ordinary backyard birds.

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