Count birds this weekend to help researchers around the world

Blue Jay Perched on Weathered Tree Limb. (Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking people to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend to help researchers gather information about birds around the world.

Researchers at Cornell University put on the Great Backyard Bird Count. They’re asking participants to look out into their backyard for 15 minutes every day, starting Friday, Feb. 16, through Monday, Feb. 19, and record the birds they see.

Last year, more than 555,000 people from more than 200 countries participated in the bird count. Lori Naumann of the Minnesota DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Division says the numbers collected by volunteers are useful for researchers in the state and around the world.

"It helps us take the temperature and gauge where populations are," Naumann said.

The data can also help scientists learn more about the environment and trends within animal populations.

"Over time, especially when you talk about things like climate change or habitat destruction or toxins or threats to toxic birds, this is a good way for us to gauge that as well as maybe migration patterns," Naumann said.

It’s easy to participate and a good way for people to connect with nature.

"You’re not expected to really go anywhere other than just count the species and the number of birds you’re seeing in your own backyard. So it’s super simple to participate," said Naumann.

Click here for resources to identify birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count.