The Great Backyard Bird Count needs your help!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a serious birder or just like watching feathered visitors to your backyard feeder. This citizen-science project wants to know what birds you see.
The project lasts for 4 days every February. As long as you can count for at least 15 minutes on at least one of those days, you can help.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society created the first Great Backyard Bird Count in 1998. It was a new experiment to see if people would count birds and enter their counts on the internet. (Remember, the internet was pretty new back then!).
Today these two organizations have partners around the world, and the GBBC is an international effort. More than 160,000 people took part in the 2016 count.
For 2017, the Count’s 20th year, the official dates are February 17-20.
The GBBC is a citizen science effort to help researchers track how bird populations are changing and how to help protect them.
The Count organizers chose February to do these counts as a way to create a snapshot of bird populations before they began their spring migrations.
But counts during other times of the year are also important, so the folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society created eBird for year-round counting.
In the beginning both counts were limited to the US and Canada. eBird went global in 2010. The GBBC followed in 2013 when it merged with eBird.
Now the GBBC data can be both its own, separate count and part of the year-round effort. You can choose to participate in just one or both. You’ll need an eBird account either way.
Anyone can sign up and count. If you have a backyard you can simply spend at least 15 minutes watching and counting the birds that show up.
If not, you can count in a nearby park, trail, or any other area. You can also count in multiple areas. Or at multiple times in one or more areas.
Remember, people in all countries can count, too!
There’s also a GBBC photo contest. Check out the 2016 winners here!
Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this unofficial/official holiday.
Join the Great Backyard Bird Count by heading over to the GBBC website to get started. This page includes links to register, downloadable instructions, help with bird IDs, and much more.
Then submit your data during the 4 days of the Count. You’ll be asked to plot the location you counted on a map to make the data more useful.
If you prefer to work on your phone, get the mobile apps. Two are for help with ID’ing the birds you see. And the eBird app lets you submit your data from anywhere.
If you like taking pictures of the birds, consider entering the photo contest.
You can also upload pictures with your count data, but that’s separate from the contest.
If you’ve done the GBBC in the past (or even if you haven’t), consider taking the “Pledge to Fledge.” This simply means you pledge to introduce others to the fun of birding. The GBBC seems like a great place to start!
So, will you be counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count this year? Will you make it a year-round habit and continue to count for the eBirds program?