Kathleen Crawford-Rose and her husband, Robert, have done so many bird counts that they’ve developed their own form to keep track.
They’ll list the species they normally see in their Bellevue yard and then add a notch for each bird they spot.
They’re ready to swing into action for the Great Backyard Bird Count, which runs Friday to Monday.
The event helps create a real-time snapsot of bird populations. Each checklist helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing.
Last year, more than 160,000 participants submitted their observations online.
Bird fans can keep track for as little as 15 minutes. Crawford-Rose said they usually begin around 7 a.m. and go until sunset each day.
“Sometimes we come up with really interesting things,” she said.
The couple have about 15 bird feeders in their yard. They attract mainly forest birds, such as woodpeckers. A pileated woodpecker was the most exciting bird they saw last year during the count.
Birding apps can help you identify different species.
To attract the birds you want, Crawford-Rose said, you have to put out the right food. It’s not a cheap hobby.
“Don’t ask,’’ she replied when asked how much it costs to maintain that many feeders.
The couple participate in several counts each year, such as the Christmas Count, which runs every year from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. They’ve recorded 25 to 30 species.
Once the count is done, they’ll send their results to birdcount.org. Pictures also can be submitted.
Some question if the count does any good, Crawford-Rose said. The 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count data highlighted a sudden increase of Snowy Owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes areas. The data also showed the effects that warm-weather patterns have had on bird movement.
Crawford-Rose said she’s seen numbers declining because of the increased number of houses in the area.
But watching the birds is something they’ve loved for as long as she can remember.
“It’s just a real enjoyable hobby,’’ Crawford-Rose said. “It’s very calm, very peaceful.”
The Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in Denton, Nebraska, is offering free bird walks on Friday and Saturday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.