Jekyll Island has long been touted as a birding paradise, and with good reason, as dozens of varieties of winged creatures call the island home. From pelicans and plovers, to wood storks and woodpeckers, birds of both common and rare roots flock to the island to create a world-class habitat ideal for birding enthusiasts.
This weekend, Jekyll Island and its’ birding friends will celebrate the island’s birding tradition as well as contribute to an international bird count by participating in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Now in its 16th year, the Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages to create a real-time snapshot of what birds are where and in what numbers. From February 15 to 18, participants the world over will tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period, then enter the numbers on the Bird Count website. Everyone is welcome to participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. Though the count lasts throughout the weekend, birders are free to participate in any desired length of time, be it one hour, or all four days.
To further the island bird count experience, Jekyll Island bird aficionado Lydia Thompson will lead bird count groups the morning of February 17, taking interested individuals around the island armed with species checklists to turn in to the Great Backyard Bird Count organization. This collected data will then be used to examine population sizes and measure health for bird species.
year, more than 17.3 million birds were counted from the 104,285 checklists submitted from bird count participants, accounting for the 623 different species sighted. Birders on Jekyll Island likewise participated in the count, tallying more than 2,770 counted birds and 93 species found in 2012. Among the most popular birds counted on Jekyll last year were the Western Sandpiper (476 counted), the Short-billed Dowitcher (333 counted), the Black Skimmer (318 counted), and the Cedar Waxwing (156 counted). Counted among the more rare varieties were the Tricolored Heron, the Eurasian Collared-Dove, the Tree Swallow, and the Northern Flicker, all of which had only one reported sighting.
“The Backyard Bird Count is an annual event that both our guests and residents look forward to each year,” said Anna Hall, Communications Specialist for the Jekyll Island Authority. “Birding is a much-loved pastime on Jekyll Island, as this activity fits inline perfectly with our overall values of conservation and outdoor exploration, both of which we hold dear here. Having a time to not only celebrate this hobby, but also provide vital data regarding birding habitats, is an opportunity in which we’re always excited to participate. We’re curious to see how the 2013 bird count results turn out and to see how our numbers compare to years past.”
Those interested in the Great Backyard Bird Count on Jekyll Island can join Lydia Thompson at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, February 17, in front of the Morgan Center, just prior to the Tidelands’ “Art Inspired by Nature” Festival and Art Sale. Bird Counting teams will travel to various locations across the island from 9 a.m. to noon, then may report their counts to Lydia. Once the checklist is handed over, participants can enjoy the Tidelands Festival, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the same day inside the Morgan Center. Both the Great American Bird Count and Tidelands Festival are free of charge.
For more information on the team birding event, please contact Lydia at 912.270.2995 or Anna Hall at 912.635.4046. To learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count and examine reports from previous years, visit www.birdsource.org/gbbc/.