By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you're looking to do something different this President's Day weekend, the Great Backyard Bird Count may just fit the bill. The four-day count is an exercise in "citizen science."
"This is a great way for people to get involved in learning about the birds in their backyard, and then contributing to science by counting them."
The Audubon Society's Steve Saffier says the annual count -- which starts Friday -- doesn't require any expertise.
"You can go onto the web site, which is www.birdcount.org, and see some of the more common birds that we'd see in the Philadelphia area, learn how to identify them, and then count the maximum number you see. "
Saffier says this year's oddly mild winter and snow drought will likely affect what you'll see -- making the effort especially valuable.
"Not only to see what specific species are showing up, but to see the trends, because we get a snapshot each year of this period of time and so we can compare it year to year."
And best of all on this holiday weekend, you'll be hardly working.
"What I like about it is you can do it from the comfort of your own home."
Michele Wellard is one of those citizen scientists.
"You don't need any experience at all. Anyone from a feeder watcher to a hardcore birder can participate. You can do as little or as much as you like. You only have to commit to fifteen minutes is the minimum. Or you can do all day if you're a hardcore birder. And it's free, it costs nothing. You can do it in your own backyard, or you could go somewhere where you want to see birds."
Listen to Molly Daly's interview with Michele Wellard in this CBS Philly podcast...
It's tough to predict how the mild weather is affecting birds, but as for people, "Hopefully a lot more people will participate in the Backyard Bird Count if it's nice out, so that will help the birds as well," Wellard says.
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