Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend

HARRISVILLE – Northeast Michigan residents are gearing up to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, which runs four days from Friday to Monday.

The purpose is to create a snapshot of the number of birds throughout Michigan and the rest of the world, organizers said. Volunteers, who may spend as little as 15 minutes counting backyard birds, input their data online, and researchers at the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology analyze the information, looking for trends.

Harrisville resident Frank Apsey will be leading one count at noon Saturday along the Cedar Run Trail at Harrisville State Park. Participants should meet at the pavilion in the main parking lot, and the hike should last about one hour, he said.

“We want to know from year to year what the distribution of different bird species are,” Apsey said. “It also gets people out there and interested in nature.”

Apsey has been participating in bird counts for 31 years and said there are now three main events: the annual Christmas count in December and January, the backyard count this weekend and the migration count in May.

“This year on the Christmas count the pine siskin numbers were very, very low,” Apsey said.

The birds, prominent in the Upper Peninsula, fly downstate during colder weather, but may not have made the journey, because the seed crops up north were good.

“The red-bellied woodpecker their numbers have been very high,” Apsey said. “The one possible reason is because of where the emerald ash borer has been.”

The birds are known to feed on insects in dying trees, he said.

For more information contact Apsey at 724-3056 or visit and click on the owl. Instructions are also available at

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.