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The Great Backyard Bird Count set for Feb. 15-18 worldwide

Mary Ann Thomas
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Courtesy of Louise Hunt
The Great Backyard Bird Count is on.The Great Backyard Bird Count is on.

The 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count is set for Feb. 15- 18. Volunteers from around the world are invited to count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.

Participating counters enter their bird checklists at birdcount.org.

Anyone with internet access can participate, regardless of skill level.

During the 2018 count, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 180,000 bird checklists.

They reported seeing a record 6,456 species – more than half the known bird species in the world.

In the United States and Canada, this year’s count is likely to yield more sightings of winter finches and grosbeaks, which have been moving farther south than usual because of poor cone, seed, and berry crops in parts of Canada.

“This year is a very exciting one for backyard birders in the East, headlined by the largest Evening Grosbeak movement in at least two decades,” said the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. “From Atlantic Canada to North Carolina, these colorful feeder visitors have been making a splash.”

Although seed crops were better in western Canada, eBird maps still show significant number of Evening Grosbeaks are now being reported in the West all the way down to the Mexican border. eBird collects bird observations globally every day of the year and is the online platform used by the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Here in the Pittsburgh area, the influx of winter finches has not been great so far, according to results of the Christmas Bird Count, held by the Audubon Society.

Fruit-eating birds were seen in larger numbers this year because of heavy rain and the resulting bounty of winter berries, according to Brian Shema, operations manager for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

The Audubon Society will hold a Great Backyard Bird Count walk on Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel, 614 Dorseyville Road, in Fox Chapel. The event is free. To register visit Audobon’s website .

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.