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"Year of the Bird" kicks off with bird counting event
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"Year of the Bird" kicks off with bird counting event

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Trumpeter swan

A trumpeter swan swims last week at De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Blair. About 60 swans are living at the refuge this winter on the open water by the Refuge headquarters. The Nebraska chapter of the National Audubon Society is currently promoting 2018 as "Year of the Bird" with events throughout the year. 

Whether it’s a robin in the backyard, a bald eagle out at Fremont Lakes, or a swarm of sandhill cranes along I-80. Watching creatures of the avian variety is an easy, and enjoyable activity for all sorts of Nebraskans.

With 2018 marking the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the National Audubon Society, along with National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and BirdLife International have joined forces with more than 100 other organizations to celebrate 2018 as the “Year of the Bird.”

In recognition of the importance of birds and their habitat to the people of this state, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation on Monday celebrating 2018 as the Year of the Bird. The proclamation encourages all Nebraskans to celebrate birds and recognize the responsibility to take care of the land, air and water shared by residents across the state.

During his speech at the Proclamation Signing Ceremony, Interim State Director for Audubon Nebraska Bill Taddicken expressed Audubon’s desire to heighten public awareness of birds because of their wonder and beauty – and because they symbolize nature’s interconnectedness and the importance of caring for our shared planet.

“There are meaningful and simple steps that anyone can take to help birds each month during 2018,” Taddicken said.

That includes an upcoming event, known as the Great Backyard Bird Count which will be held February 16-19.

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Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds, released information states.

While the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in Denton, southwest of Lincoln, will hold a Great Backyard Bird Count event on February 17th and the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center near Gibbon will hold a count on February 18th, anyone can participate by counting birds in their own backyards.

To participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count all anyone has to do is spend at least 15 minutes counting birds they see, estimate the species and amount, and then enter their list online.

For more information about the Great Backyard Bird Count, and specific instructions on how to participate visit BirdCount.org.

Along with the Great Backyard Bird Count, Audubon and partner organizations have monthly activities planned to raise the visibility of birds and inspire action through #BirdYourWorld in 2018.

The proclamation signed by Governor Ricketts stated that from the sandhills and pine bluff regions to the Niobrara River Valley to the eastern deciduous forests on the bluffs of the Missouri River to the sandsage prairie in the southwest corner of the state and every in between, Nebraska’s rich natural resources support more than 400 bird species.

More information about the Year of the Bird can be found at audubon.org/yearofthebird.

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