This weekend is your familys chance to be involved in a worldwide citizen-science project, and all you have to do is take your kids outside to look for birds. There will be special events all over the Triangle to help families catch the birding spirit and participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
The count started in 1998 as a project of the National Audubon Society, and its purpose is to collect data on wild birds. For four days each February, thousands of people in countries all over the globe help create a snapshot of bird populations a sort of bird census.
Last year, people in 111 countries counted more than 33 million birds. They documented nearly 4,300 species, more than a third of the worlds bird species.
To participate, all you have to do is spend at least 15 minutes outside tallying the numbers and types of birds you see sometime between Friday and Monday (Feb. 14-17), then enter your results online at gbbc.birdcount.org.
If you need a little help identifying birds, or just want to turn the count into a fun family outing, check out one of these bird count events at Triangle parks on Saturday:
• Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville will hold a group bird walk 8:30-10 a.m. Take binoculars and help the group spot and identify birds. After the walk, stay for the Bird Expo, where there will be bird-themed activities and crafts, as well as lots of information about birds and bird conservation. All activities are free. Call the park for more information at 919-460-2723.
• There is another morning bird walk on the American Tobacco Trail in Apex. The group will meet at 8 a.m. at the New Hill Parking Area (1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Road) and spend about two hours bird hunting. Register by calling 919-387-4342.
• Harris Lake County Park in New Hill will hold Birdapalooza from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The free event is for all ages and will include games, crafts, hikes and scavenger hunts. For more information, go to wakegov.com/parks/harrislake or call 919-387-4342.
• Harris Lake will also host a nighttime bird hike 6-8 p.m. Saturday, which will help participants learn to count birds by listening for their distinctive calls. Wear hiking shoes and meet at the parks Loblolly Shelter.
If you want to go beyond birds, Saturday is also the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences annual Darwin Day. The free event is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There will be dozens of special exhibits and presentations throughout the day to teach about Charles Darwins theories of natural selection, and how they changed the worlds of science, research and education.
Kids can participate in hands-on science experiments, play games and make crafts. Families can also listen to talks from scientists who are applying Darwins theories in their own work, including one who studies penguin evolution and another who studies the ways that baboons communicate.
To add to the fun, a science historian will be roaming the museum dressed as Darwin and sharing his knowledge of this important scientist.
See the schedule of events at naturalsciences.org/programs-events/darwin-day-2014.
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