It’s Not Too Late to Join the Great Backyard Bird Count!
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a four-day event that occurs every year on February 14 – 17th. This year, 2014, marks the 17th GBBC event. Bird watchers around the world count and report the birds they see in their area during these four days. Everyone is welcome and it only takes 15 minutes a day, although you can count birds for longer periods of time if you want. You can participate one or all four days – it’s up to you. It’s free, easy and it really makes a difference!
The GBBC is a citizen volunteer project that helps wild life scientists around the world document and understand the complex distribution and movements of wild birds. No single scientist or even a team of scientists can track bird populations because they are constantly moving. Bird migration and habitat locations change over time the bird count helps scientist to understand how birds react to climate change, urban growth and other environmental factors. It also helps with bird preservation because rare bird populations are identified.
Photo credit: birds.audubon.org
In order to participate, you need to set up a free GBBC account. There are checklists by county in your area that are used to track the number of birds you see during the Count. As the Count progresses, anyone with an account can login and see what is being reported in real-time.
Participants are also encouraged to send in photographs of the birds they see. The GBBC will select images and post them online in the photo gallery. This is another fun way to watch the Count progress.
Anyone with an internet connection and an eBird account can submit a checklist of the number of birds they counted during the time period. Participants are encouraged to submit their lists every day.
Last year, in 2013, bird watchers from over 100 countries participated. 2013 was the first worldwide event. They identified 3,620 species of birds and counted more than 34.5 million individual birds. These impressive participation statistics were able to help scientists understand how weather influences bird populations, the timing changes of migration patterns, how bird diseases are affecting birds in different regions, and much more.
Bird watchers submit a report each time they complete a bird-watching session. Multiple reports can be submitted each day (such as if you count during the morning and evening.) A local reviewer will check each report bird watchers may be contacted by the reviewers if they have any questions.
The GBBC suggests using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website to identify birds as you are counting them. Their Online Bird Guide lists 590 species and counting. They offer ID tips, sound and video for 187 species. There are various ways to search to find birds you aren’t familiar with. Other website features include a bird cam, bird of the week, sound of the week, best birdshare, videos, FAQs and much more.
Photo credit: innerchildfun.com
The GBBC is a great event for kids and adults to participate in together. The GBBC has a For Kids Webpage designed to make bird watching easy and fun. There are educational games, puzzles and downloadable coloring pages. There are also educational materials available with suggestions for ways to involve kids and set up fun activities such as building feeders, doing research, math, art, journaling and other ways to engage young people.
The GBBC is a fun way to enjoy your outdoor living area, one that can extend year-round. For more information and to set up your free eBird account go to The Great Backyard Bird Count.