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Pinnacle Mountain State Park to celebrate Great Backyard Bird Count

A cedar waxwing, photographed through binoculars.
Audrey Nguyen/NPR
A cedar waxwing, photographed through binoculars.

The Great Backyard Bird count begins Friday and will last through the weekend. The community science event occurs every February and helps gather a massive amount of information about bird populations and migration patterns across the country.

Sam Files is a park interpreter at Pinnacle Mountain State Park just outside of Little Rock. He says the project helps scientists collect a large amount of data that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

“This allows them to much more accurately determine migration patterns for the year, and it also allows them to see trends over time with a lot more data to pull from,” Files said. “So the more people that participate, the more accurate counts they can get on what these different bird species populations look like this year compared to previous years.”

Files says anyone can get involved in the bird count. Participants record what birds they hear or see in their backyard and share their data with scientists.

“You can come in without being able to identify a single bird, or not even know what a bird is and we’ll still have a fun time," Files says. "We’ll give you opportunities during these events to log any birds that we’ve spotted. All these hikes are good for any age group, any experience level. We’re just out here to have fun and help this community science event”

Pinnacle Mountain State park is hosting public events throughout the weekend. But for those who can’t make it out, Files says there are two apps that allow people to log birds on their own. One app, called Merlin, has a recording feature to help users identify birds.

Files also recommends an app called eBird, which has a corresponding website and helps keep track of a lifetime birding list.

A variety of birding and bird-related activities will take place through the weekend. More information about Pinnacle’s programs is available at the Arkansas State Parks website, and to learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count go to birdcount.org.

Maggie Ryan is a reporter and local host of All Things Considered for Little Rock Public Radio.