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It’s time to wing it.

The Queens Botanical Garden is seeking volunteers for the Great Backyard Bird Count 2017 on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shari Romar, a former staffer and self-described “bird nerd,” will lead this family-friendly event, which is basically a nature walk mixed with some aspects of a scavenger hunt for a great cause.

Despite the cold weather and snow, more than 50 avian species make their home in the Flushing green space during the winter. This includes red-tailed hawks, mallards, ring-necked pheasants, and American robins. Of course, there are plenty of pigeons, sparrows, and blue jays as well.

Spearheaded by the National Audubon Society, this 20th annual census is a global effort to track migration patterns and population shifts. Professional naturalists analyze the data before making decisions about conservation.

In 2016, more than 160,000 volunteers from more than 130 countries counted for four days from Feb. 12 to Feb. 15. They reported 5,689 species, including 665 species in the United States. One of the biggest surprises was the presence of three relatives of the American Robin — White-throated Thrush, Rufous-backed Robin, and Clay-colored Thrush — in United States that are usually found in Mexico and Central America.

The event is free, but registration is required. Meet at the Visitor and Administration Building lobby. (In case of cancellation, volunteers will be notified via email.)

Queens Botanical Garden will host additional National Audubon Society bird walks in the spring, too. With the warmer weather, a different set of flying creatures should be in town.

Images from Queens Botanical Garden

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