ASTORIA — The 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count is taking place Feb. 17 to 20.
To participate in this citizen science opportunity, anyone in the world can count birds at any location for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org
The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track changes in bird populations on a massive scale. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is partially sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited.
From Friday, Feb. 17, through Monday, Feb. 20, visitors to Fort Clatsop in Lewis and Clark National Historical Park can join in the count by recording bird observations in the park and make plans to count birds in their own backyards. Binoculars will be available for loan within the park.
Along with the actual bird counting activities, the park has planned four days of bird-related opportunities. A “great pink heron scavenger hunt” will be ongoing using the Netul Trail along the Lewis and Clark River. A Birds of Fort Clatsop display is in the visitor center.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, Mike Patterson will lead a birding walk starting at 9a.m. in the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center lobby. Although leashed dogs are welcome at most of the park’s outdoor programs, dogs are not allowed at this morning walk. Dress for the weather. The walk is wheelchair accessible, although non-motorized users might need assistance for about 200 yards.
On Sunday, Feb. 19, Josh Saranpaa, a wildlife rehabilitator and director of the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, will talk about the center’s work at 1 p.m. in the Netul River Room of the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center. This In Their Footsteps program will feature live birds from the center, such as common murres, rhinoceros auklet, northern fulmar, a northern saw-whet owl and an American kestral.
For 20 years, the Wildlife Center of the North Coast has been a helpful resource when people find sick or injured wildlife. The nonprofit center aids all indigenous wildlife, has a wildlife hospital, and provides off-site education programs. Saranpaa has worked there for nine years. His presentation will cover some of the dangers that wildlife face in this region, the work of the Wildlife Center of the North Coast and how people can help local wildlife. Admission to the In Their Footsteps program is free.
Park hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Admission is $5 per adult and free for youth 15 years old and under. Passes to National Park Service sites are accepted.
In honor of President’s Day, visits to National Park sites, including Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, are free on Monday, Feb. 20.
A variety of bird field guides are available for purchase at the Lewis & Clark National Park Association bookstore in the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center.
For more information on the national bird count event or to submit bird counts from your home, go to www.birdcount.org. The weekend’s birding events at Fort Clatsop are sponsored by the Lewis & Clark National Park Association and the National Park Service. For more information, call the park at 503-861-2471 or check out www.nps.gov/lewi or Lewis and Clark National Historical Park on Facebook.