The Great Backyard Bird Count, a four-day event that goes through this Monday, is a simple way to make a meaningful contribution to conservation efforts, and you don’t even need to leave your couch. Bird watchers of all ages – novices included – can help the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada get a real-time snapshot of bird whereabouts by recording their observations in their own yards.

February might seem an odd time to look for feathered friends, but this count offers scientists early indicators before spring migration begins in March.

Register at and then set 15 minutes aside to observe your back (or front) yard. It takes another few minutes to go online and log the birds you saw.

The website also offers a way for those interested to explore real-time data through map-plotting reports as well as reports of the count from previous years. And if you’re new to birding, or teaching a child how to identify birds, there are helpful links to bird identification guides.

Observation is a form of conservation anyone can do, and participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count takes only 15 minutes and some gazing out your window.

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