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While working in our yard or garden, we gardeners tend to listen to nature as she speaks to us both visually and auditorally. We are excited about color, shapes, and textures in our gardens, consequently also taken by the beauty and harmony of the bird species that either live or frequent our gardens. Some of us even have running water in our landscapes as an additional dimension as well as an attraction for birds. Master Gardeners frequently keep records of garden plantings, diseases that they may have to deal with, blooming times and measurements, and other details that help them improve their gardens.

 Why not keep records of the birds in your yard or garden, not only to benefit you, but for everyone else to learn from. This has been made easy for all of us in that a real-time, online checklist program, “eBird” is now available and has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources on bird abundance and locations worldwide. A quote from the eBird website states “in March 2012, participants reported more than 3.1 million bird observations across [just] North America”.

It is so simple, just go to http://ebird.org/ebird/places and explore any region that you have an interest in. Enter the region, such as Muscatine County, Iowa, and you will immediately find people who have entered bird species in our county. Also, you can enter a popular birding area such as Cone Marsh, for entries of bird species and reporters of same. For example, the eBird site states that, historically, 208 species by 177 different individuals were recorded for that location. At another popular local location, Wild Cat Den State Park, this year 38 species by four individuals have been entered on eBird.

On the eBird website, explore the birding data for a region or a hotspot, by species, or by accessing a bar chart that will illustrate various species since data has been logged. Register as a user and begin recording the birds that you see in your yard and garden, and join the fun, both in gardening and in birding.

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