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The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is Friday February 12 through Monday February 15, 2010 and you can consider Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore your backyard. Over 350 species of birds spend some time at the national lakeshore and winter is a great time to see birds that traditionally summer farther north.
The GBBC is a national program sponsored by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Audubon and a Canadian partner, Bird Studies Canada. These organizations utilize the help of citizen scientists to get a detailed snapshot of bird distribution across North America. All they ask is for you to look for birds for 15 minutes, identify and count what you see, and report it to their data base. Last year the Northern Cardinal was the most sited bird and the State of Michigan was 10th in submitting checklists. In 2009 Indiana ranked 10th in number of birds counted with 356,192 birds sighted in the Hoosier state of the 11,558,638 birds counted across the United States and Canada. You can participate on one day or all three. You can find the data collection sheet and information on how to participate in the GBBC at their website http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/.
Not a birder? Not a problem, birders in training can join Interpretive Ranger Frank Quinto for a snowshoe bird hike on Saturday February 13th starting at 1:00p.m at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center at the intersection of Highway 49 and US 20 in Porter, Indiana. Ranger Frank will lead you to the day’s featured location for the hike. Bring your own binoculars and the national park will provide the data collection forms and snow shoes. The warming hut on the Ly-ko-ki-we trail will be open this weekend for those of you who would like to cross-country ski and look for birds. A ranger will have data collection sheets available at the hut.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 392 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/INDU.