The 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count held Feb. 16-19 received 907 checklists from participants throughout Arkansas, spotting 135 species of birds.
The top five most counted birds in Arkansas were: Snow geese, Red-winged blackbirds, Mallards, Greater white-front geese, and Gadwalls, which are diminutive, grey ducks.
The top hotspot for bird watching in the state was Two Rivers Park, near Little Rock.
In the continental U.S. 108,245 checklists were turned in, with observers spotting 603 species of birds.
Flyway Brewing, 314 S. Maple St. in North Little Rock, is named after the numerous bird migration flight paths across the country that converge in the Mississippi Flyway. It hosts Audubon Arkansas each third Tuesday of the month for ‘Birds and Beer” Trivia during happy hour. February’s trivia night focused on the Great Backyard Bird Count.
There were 11 true/false questions on the trivia cards, which were on each table. We wet our beak with the brewery’s Bluewing Berry Wheat and pecked at a soft pretzel covered with bacon-flavored salt, while marking our answers on the trivia card. Looking the answers up on your smartphone is encouraged, since it is after all, educational. Volunteers pick up the trivia cards from each table and draw one winner out of the basket. The prize last month was a growler, which is a large glass jug, of Flyway beer.
The next “Birds and Beer Trivia” happy hour will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Tuesday, March 20.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Great Backyard Bird Count is a three day event each February that enlists birdwatchers to provide a snapshot of information to scientists. Established in 1998 by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell University ornithology lab, the numbers from the Great Backyard Bird Count and other citizen-based bird counting projects help scientists get an idea of what trends are occurring within the bird populations across the country.
Other citizen-based bird counting projects throughout the year include the Christmas Bird Count, Project Feeder-Watch, and eBird, which is an app to help bird watchers find out where the birds are, share their findings, and keep track of what birds they have seen.
The AGFC has also created its own “Wings Over Arkansas” program to reward Arkansas birdwatchers for their efforts throughout the year.
“With Wings Over Arkansas, you record the bird species you see or hear on a checklist,” explained Kirsten Bartlow, watchable wildlife coordinator for the AGFC.
“Once you reach certain levels, you are awarded a certificate and pin to show your accomplishments.”
In the news release Bartlow while “Wings Over Arkansas” is very popular with school groups and scouts, many adult participants also enjoy creating a life list of birds they’ve seen.
“Birding is something that anyone can enjoy, no matter what age they are,” Bartlow explained. “And because birds can be attracted to practically any location using feeders, you don’t have to make special plans for a weekend getaway to a far off destination to enjoy the hobby.”
The commission’s four nature centers in the state have birdwatching stations equipped with feeders, so people can easily watch birds feeding. The centers also have wildlife field guides available and staff to help answer questions.
Registration deadline for BirdLR competition in May
Thursday is the team registration deadline for Audubon Arkansas’ “BirdLR” competition and fundraiser, to be held Saturday, May 12. The teams will fan out across Pulaski County to try find the most bird species by 5 p.m. The teams of two to five people will set a fundraising goal, as well as a goal for how many species of bird they hope to see. The team collects pledges and donations from friends, family, and community members. Donors can pledge per bird or just make a contribution to the team. There is also a bird scavenger hunt, in which teams can search North Little Rock and Little Rock to find bird-related items on a list. Afterwards, all teams are invited to join the Bird Bash 5-7 p.m. where prizes will be awarded for the most species observed and most money raised. The registration fee is $25 per team member and all team members will receive “BirdLR” t-shirts. To register your team email email@example.com or visit audubonarkansas.org for more information.