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Published: Saturday, February 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Citizen counts help bird studies

The country is too big and the number of professional bird-related occupations too small to produce more than a scientific sampling of nationwide bird counts, migrations, ebb and flow of bird populations, bird diseases and other facets.
This is where citizen scientists come in, the thousands of volunteers whose time and efforts supplement the work of the professionals, providing more information allowing a more accurate portrayal of numbers and trends.
The most familiar way that volunteers work is in the annual Christmas Bird Count. Another way is through the Great Backyard Bird Count this month. Results from those activities are collated at the national level for the professionals to interpret.
In 2011, the backyard bird count for Edmonds registered 2,041 birds representing 72 species, more than double the number of birds and species from 2010. The effort put Edmonds in the state's top 10 counts. See www.birdcount.org for additional information.
This year's count will take place over the four-day Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 17 to 20.
To make the counts more accurate and effective, the Edmonds Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program, Pilchuck Audubon Society, Edmonds Parks department and the Willow Creek Hatchery will again sponsor free citizen training from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Feb. 11.
NOAA scientist Dr. Alan Mearns will talk about becoming a citizen-scientist for Cornell Lab of Ornithology and how to take the counts. The training will be held at the Edmonds Wildlife Habitat & Native Plant Demonstration Garden (Edmonds Salmon Hatchery Building), 95 Pine St. off Highway 104).
For more information go to edmondsbackyardwildlifehabitat.org/.
Underwater: Award-winning National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry captured everyone's attention Monday night as he kicked off the National Geographic Live! series at Benaroya Hall with a lecture and slide show "Ocean Soul."
Skerry hardly took a breath as passion for his life's work as an underwater photographer took over. His images of healthy coral reefs were stunning and unlike nearly all of the coral reef photographs that we are likely to see.
In a healthy environment, large predators can account for up to 85 percent of the fish biomass at healthy reefs, certainly not our perception of aquarium-sized fish seen with snorkeling gear.
The next speaker in the Live! series is photojournalist Catherine Karnow and her Journey to Vietnam, Feb. 26 to 28.
The series takes place at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle. Tickets are $12 to $28. Go to www.seattlesymphony.org/benaroya/ or call 866-833-4747.
Beach mining: I never thought I'd put the words beach and mining in the same sentence. Recently the state adopted regulations about recreational small-scale mineral prospecting and mining on ocean beaches.
The public can learn more and offer opinions at a 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 meeting at the Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St.
The rules are online at www.parks.wa.gov/rules, under the parks commission rule-making section. For more information, call 360-725-9777.
Out and about: The Nisqually River Delta restoration project won the Coastal America Partnership Award. A new boardwalk was part of the package.
Although not official, the 85-mile William O. Douglas Heritage Trail between Yakima and Ohanapecosh in Mount Rainier National Park is now a reality.
The 17th annual Seattle Bike Swap is back with new and used bike-related merchandise. The swap will be at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall again, 225 Mercer St. Seattle.
It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 12 with a sliding scale for admission. For details: tinyurl.com/6m33x28.
The Seattle Bicycle Expo is set for March 10 and 11 at Smith Cove Cruise Terminal 91on the Magnolia waterfront. For more information: tinyurl.com/7bklxnq.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast has gone dark. One of the most photographed lighthouses on the West Coast, about 13 miles north of Florence, the 1894 building is undergoing a restoration that might take two years to complete.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.
Story tags » Natural resourcesNatureWildlife HabitatBird-watching

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