The red-breasted male merganser is one of the abundant bird species you can find in the Campbell River area.

Get out the binoculaurs, load up the bird feeder

The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count runs next weekend

Just what cupid ordered: a February weekend of heart-felt feathery fun, with every bird a loved bird.

The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) runs next weekend: Friday through Monday, February 15-18.

Last year, Campbell River birders reported 60 different species, and British Columbia made the TOP 10 list with 190 species overall.

Individuals, groups, families and classrooms may participate. Simply count the birds in your yard, neighbourhood, park or waterfront, and then submit findings online.

Mid-winter brings fabulous birdwatching: leaves are off trees, and natural food is scarce, making backyard feeders a magnet. Next weekend’s count is a timely reminder to beef up the offerings.

Wash and refill feeders. Include a sock full of nijer seed for finches, black oily sunflower seeds for songbirds, and suet blocks for woodpeckers, flickers and nuthatches. Place feeders near ‘cover’ of bushes or trees, and about 15 feet above ground.

Participating is as easy as 1,2,3.

First, create a GBBC account. Then, count for at least 15 minutes on any one day, marking the kinds you see and time you watched.  Make your best estimate of how many birds of each species, and the highest number seen at one time. Find full details and enter your findings online at the GBBC website

Plan to visit your favourite birdwatching locations.

You can count as many times a day, on all four days, in as many places as you like. If you’re a veteran GBBC participant, why not invite friends, neighbours and family to join in this year?

Attention photographers: email the GBBC your best bird pics to win big prizes.

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