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(Neb.)-Head To Agate Fossil Beds For Bird Counting This Weekend

By: Roxie Graham-Marski Posted at: 02/11/2013 12:05 PM

Photo: Whooo will you see during the Great Backyard Bird Count, February 15th-18th?
(HARRISON)-Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is inviting bird lovers of all kinds to consider the monument as their backyard on February 17th during the 16th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.Amanda Filipi with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will present a program in the visitor center’s theater and out-of-doors (where the birds are) on Sunday, February 17th at 1:30 p.m. Her talk will include the background of the Great Backyard Bird Count, birding basics, and common birds of the area. Be sure to dress appropriately and bring binoculars if you have them; some binoculars will be available to borrow. 
            Filipi’s parents started her interest in birds when she was little. She says, “My parents had a bird field guide by the window and would identify new or visiting birds.” As she grew up, she noticed that she knew many of the more common birds and wanted to identify new species.
            A member of the Wildcat Hills Audubon Society, Filipi previously worked as an educator for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory where she had many great opportunities to learn from “seasoned” birders and biologists. She currently works for Game and Parks at the WildcatHillsNatureCenter south of Gering. She says she not only gets to watch birds from the feeders at the NatureCenter, but she also gets to share her love of birds and the outdoors.
            For those who like birds and want to get involved with this important national winter bird count, Agate Fossil Beds’ 2,700 acres are comprised of three different bird habitats, attracting upland birds, prairie birds, and wetlands birds. With almost five miles of walking trails within the park, birders can see these three different habitats without having to go cross country. Each participant will receive a free Pocket Guide to Prairie Birds, put out by the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Other bird books are available in the Oregon Trail Museum Association bookstore inside the visitor center.
            The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count runs February 15th-18th nationwide. The event is hosted by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. People new to birding, as well as experienced birders, are encouraged to participate in the count. Each year, participants’ reports track the location and numbers of familiar birds, as well as document unusual bird behavior. Patterns of migration, trends reflecting climate change, disease, and use of urban areas are all studied using the results of this program. Last year 623 species and 17 million birds were counted.  
 
It’s easy to participate.
1.      Visit www.birdsource.org/gbbc for easy-to-follow instructions, including tips for identifying bird species. Download a checklist for your area.
2.      Count the birds you see, wherever you choose to count. Write down the highest number of individual birds you see at one time—that way you will avoid counting any bird twice.
3.      After at least 15 minutes of watching in one place, report your results online at www.birdsource.org/gbbc. (You can spend more time observing if you prefer.)
4.      You can repeat your count at the same place on each day of the Great Backyard Bird Count, or you can visit other locations. Submit a new checklist for each day, time period, and location.
 
            Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located 22 miles south of Harrison or 34 miles north of Mitchell on State Highway 29. Winter hours for the visitor center are 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The walking trails are open from dawn until dusk. Agate Fossil Beds is a free park. For more information, call 308-668-2211 or 308-436-9760, go to www.nps.gov/agfo, or visit us on Facebook.
 
--Agate Fossil Beds National Monument


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