Great Backyard Bird Count

Last Updated on October 9, 2020 by Nancie

American Goldfinches at Heated Birdbath
American Goldfinches at Heated Birdbath

Today I’m counting birds. Well, every day I count birds at some point as part of my bird watching. But today is right in the middle of the Great Backyard Bird Count:

“Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Now, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.”

How to Participate

It’s easy to participate. If you already on eBird, another related Cornell Lab project, submit your bird counts through your existing eBird account as usual. It will be automatically included in the GBBC. If not, no problem. Just go to the Great Backyard Bird Count website and register for the count.

Cornell explains, “Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 12-15, 2016. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!”

Just look outside your window and count the birds you see. Or go to a local park or wildlife refuge to do your count. Wherever you like to watch wild birds anywhere in the world is fine. Do one count or do more than one. Just count the number of each bird species you see.

What You’ll Need to Enter

Enter the count on the website or through the eBird app if you use that on your smart phone. (Check out my post on my Favorite Birding Apps which includes the eBird app.) Either way, they ask you to identify where you were geographically when you saw the birds and how long you spent watching. They want to know how much effort you put into it too. This means were you traveling, watching from a stationary point, or if it is just an incidental sighting. And they want to know how long you spent watching and how many of each species you saw.

The website has a good page with FAQs if you have questions. But it really isn’t hard to use. It’s really just filling in a quick form.

What Your Info is Used For

The data that everyday people submit is used by Cornell’s scientists to look at bird populations. They look at their movements and changes in the various species’ geographical ranges. It helps them spot which birds seem to be doing okay and which birds might be in trouble. It’s very cool to be able to help out with this project. And once you get started counting birds, it becomes a bit addictive. You too may find yourself spending some time every day counting birds!


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