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Residents flock to Great Backyard Bird Count

Lucy DeLap Mary Pawlak David Poweleit try catch glimpse bird during Saturday's GreBackyard Bird Count initiative. | ErSauder ~ For

Lucy DeLap, Mary Pawlak, and David Poweleit try to catch a glimpse of a bird during Saturday's Great Backyard Bird Count initiative. | Erin Sauder ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 17, 2014 11:55AM

Single-digit temperatures didn’t stop a number of area residents from taking part in Saturday’s Great Backyard Bird Count effort in Dundee Township.

Instead, attendees donned scarves, hats, gloves and snow boots to take part in the national initiative, which invites bird watchers from all over the world to count birds for at least 15 minutes and enter their sightings into a website.

The event has been going on nationally since 1998 and is sponsored through the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab Ornithology. The information is used to help track the health of bird populations. The 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count will run through Feb. 17.

Locally, this is the sixth year Dundee Township volunteer and Carpentersville resident David Poweleit has led the local effort.

During Saturday’s excursion through the Library Springs nature area behind the library on Barrington Road, the kinds of birds counted included robins, a blue jay, nut hatch, black-capped chickadee, northern flicker and a red-bellied woodpecker, among others.

But Poweleit doesn’t measure the success of the event by how many birds are counted.

“It’s not so much what you see but being able to come out and collect data and share that data,” he said.

Poweleit said not seeing or hearing birds during these events can be just as informative than their presence. He noted when the West Nile virus arrived in the United States that some species began to decline.

“People saw a lot of numbers drop for blue jays and crows,” he said. “Now they’ve started coming back.”

He not only enjoys birding, which he’s been doing since junior high, but Poweleit said the event has also become a tradition for him and his daughter, Abbie, 8.

“It’s a lot of fun for us,” he said.

And Abbie enjoys it, too.

“I like to see the different kinds of birds,” she said.

Her favorite bird? “I really like the blue jay,” she said.

East Dundee resident Lucy DeLap was another attendee Saturday.

“I’ve been birding for 40 years,” she said. “If I can get a good sighting of a bird for a second or two I can usually get an idea of what it is.”

Mary Pawlak of Carpentersville, who enjoys birdwatching, was also there and brought along her circa World War II binoculars. She was glad she could make it to the event.

“I just retired this year so I don’t have to be home cleaning the house today,” she said with a laugh. “I did that yesterday.”

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