Evening grosbeaks (Photo by Mary Curtis, via Birdcount.org)

Next week, even the least adventurous can participate in a fun outdoor activity. In fact, you don't even need to be outside to be part of the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, running Friday-Monday, Feb. 13-16. You can count from your window, cup of coffee in hand.

From the National Audubon Society: "Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. Itís free, fun, and easy -- and it helps the birds."

[Event info]

Basically, you sit, watch birds for 15 minutes and count the greatest number of each species you see at one time. Then, you upload your numbers to the website. Scientists use the data from across the country to chart population trends and migrations.

If you're planning to watch at your house or apartment, it's best to set up a feeder soon. This way, birds will know your yard offers a tasty buffet. To ensure a bird-friendly yard, check these tips.

Look for full preview coverage of the event in the Feb. 12 Venture column,