The Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday

Mission Reach a great place to birdwatch

SAN ANTONIO – Starting on Friday, more than 100,000 people across the country will be bird watching. It marks the beginning of the annual The Great Backyard Bird Count, an event that continues through Monday.    

"Anybody can sit along the banks of the San Antonio River or at their house and record the bird species that they see there,” said Carrie Merson, the Education Specialist for the San Antonio River Authority.

The bird count calls on anyone who wants to bird watch, to identify and tally birds they see at any place, and upload pictures of them to The Great Backyard Bird Count website. It is a count run by the likes of Cornell University and The Audubon Society. The only requirement is that you tally your observations for at least 15 minutes.

Merson recommended binoculars and a smartphone application to help identify the birds. Some popular apps are iNaturalist or eBird. 

South Texas also happens to be a great location for birding and often draws in birders from across the country hoping to see one of the 914 species of North American birds.    

"We are under what we call the central flyway for the migratory birds,” said Merson.

Merson and the San Antonio River Authority have a special interest in the count because they are currently conducting a scientific bird count along the Mission Reach. The River Authority said additional help to discover migratory birds moving through the area is welcomed. High and varied bird populations indicate a healthy river environment, which is a goal for the growing ecosystem along the Mission Reach portion of the San Antonio River. New plant species have already found a home here.

"We predict that the number of bird species we find, will also increase,” said Merson. 

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