Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count Coming Soon

Pine Siskin / Photo by Maria Corcacas, NY

This weekend, February 12-15, will be the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. The count is an opportunity for thousands of bird lovers to watch birds and provide observation data for scientists who monitor bird populations. Bird distribution is constantly changing, and a large-scale survey like the GBBC can provide a picture of where birds are located at a single point in time. Last winter was notable for a heavy influx of Pine Siskins into the eastern United States; participants recorded 279,469 siskins on 18,528 checklists, a record year for the species on this count.

Bird watchers of all skill levels are invited to submit sightings. To participate, set aside at least 15 minutes sometime during the weekend of February 12-15. Count all the birds that you see during that period, and report the results on the GBBC website. The website will update in real time, so participants can see what birds are being reported in their towns or states and view maps of recent sightings.

Despite its name, the Great Backyard Bird Count is not solely about backyards. Feeder-watching is probably the activity most associated with the count since it is one of the most common ways that bird lovers interact with birds. If you do not have feeders or a backyard, you can submit checklists for your neighborhood or local parks. Since the count is intended to record all species of North American birds, submissions for wildlife refuges or seawatches are also encouraged. If you already submit sightings to Project FeederWatch or eBird, you can submit those checklists for the GBBC as well.

If you use social media, you can become a fan of the GBBC on Facebook or tweet your sightings on Twitter using the hashtag #gbbc.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada.