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Outdoors

James Drake

The Great Backyard Bird Count is scheduled to run from Feb. 15 to 18, and everyone everywhere is invited to participate.

It’s free, fun and provides important functional data to researchers and other bird scientists.

Beginner birders and experts alike are welcome, and it only takes as little as 15 minutes on one day. Of course, you can observe and count for as long as you like, but the minimum time requirement is only 15 minutes during that weekend.

All you do is tally up the number of individual birds you see of each species you notice and then enter those numbers on the GBBC website, www.birdsource.org.

You’ll need to set up a GBBC account, but it’s free to do. You’re also welcome to send in photographs of birds you observe.

This is a great way to connect with the outdoor world for individuals to whole families, and even entire classrooms might participate as a class project and contribute a little to knowledge and conservation.

The GBBC website is the place to get started. There, you’ll find helpful resources such as bird identification tips, a photo gallery and special materials for educators.

Last year, participants observed 17.4 million birds of 600 species in the United States and Canada, with 104,000 checklists being submitted. Those combined checklists provide invaluable information to help researchers understand the importance of various locations to birds and gauge the latest trends in bird populations and distribution.

Beginning in 2013, GBBC checklists will be accepted from anywhere in the world, and that’s only going to make the data more useful and universal.

The GBBC is a joint project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. Consider joining them in this 16th annual count.

Help needed

Skippers and boats, general helpers and area vendors are all invited to participate in the Wounded Warrior event scheduled for May 4 at Smallwood State Park in Marbury.

Hosted by The Catfish Nation, the organizers are expecting this year’s catfish tournament to have more warriors wanting to fish than they have available boats in their club.

Launch time is set for 8 a.m., and weigh-in is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Catfish Nation/Wounded Warriors have reserved Smallwood for exclusive use in support of this event, and there will be free entry to park and free ramps for everyone participating in any of the planned activities.

The intent and mission of this one special day is to give back just a little to our American heroes who serve and have given so much of themselves to all of us.

This will be some well-deserved recreation on the Potomac River in an attempt to put a monster catfish on the end of everyone’s rod.

After each warrior brings their largest catfish of the day back for the weigh-in, the fish will be released to live free and may be caught again another time.

After the weigh-in, there will be plenty of free food for everyone.

To help out, you don’t have to be some nationally ranked professional fisherman or have a single sponsor patch on your shirt. There will be plenty of expertise already there, and they’ll even provide volunteering boat captains with free bait.

Go to www.catfishnation.com and click on “Wounded Warrior” on the left side of the homepage. If you’re willing to help May 4, or maybe you’re a vendor agreeable to participate, call Catfish Nation owner/founder Tim Hagan at 301-524-7486 or Mark Lee at 410-394-6412.

Youth Waterfowl Day

Experienced waterfowl hunters are encouraged to introduce young people to the sport Feb. 9.

This date is set aside so hunters age 15 and younger may hunt ducks, geese, mergansers and coots on public and private lands.

Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age who holds a valid Maryland hunting license or is exempt from this requirement.

The adult may not carry a weapon. The young hunter must be holding a receipt showing they purchased a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Hunting Stamp. Hunters 16 and younger do not need a federal duck stamp.

Bag limits are the same as during the regular waterfowl season.

Yellow perch

As our days continue to grow longer and especially if nice weather visits us again, many folks could easily come down with some ghastly cases of cabin fever.

This time of year, yellow perch outings generally are a somewhat soothing comfort for this illness, and places like Nanjemoy Creek, Mattawoman Creek, Allens Fresh and the Patuxent’s Wayson’s Corner get the prime attention of local perch anglers.

Maryland fishery biologists have noted a relatively low spawning reproduction now for a few years. Still, the yellow perch fishery is considered to be in good shape, and success might just mean logging a little more time to catch a limit.

The 2011 class of yellow perch appears to be strong. Those fish spawned two years ago will still be undersized for 2013 but good news for years to come.

In tidal waters, the 2013 yellow perch rules call for a nine-inch minimum size and a 10 fish daily creel limit.

Correction

The number provided in last Friday’s edition to call for the Patuxent River Sail and Power Squadron boating course set to get underway on Feb. 5 was incorrect.

You should call 301-475-3883 with questions or to register.

zbasser@aol.com