Why You Should Count the Birds in Your Backyard this Weekend

Bird populations are dropping all over the world and at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep track of which birds where are most at risk.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an important way for scientists, biologists and concerned citizens to get a real-time snapshot of just how many birds are still around and what kind of dangers they face. For one long weekend, from Friday, Feb 12, through Monday, Feb 15, thousands of volunteers help count the birds they see. Scientists then crunch the numbers to get a sense of what birds might be in trouble and where help is most needed.

The project is the brainchild of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The two groups simply ask that bird watchers of all ages spend as little as 15 minutes, or longer if they wish, to count the birds they see in their backyards and in other places around their homes and communities. Participants complete a checklist and report their sightings online at birdcount.org.

“Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, more than 140,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded,” say the organizers.

On the program website participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during and after the count. The Explore a Region tool offers an overview of what you could see in your area while you’re out counting. You can also check out this handy online bird guide to help you identify what you spot.

You don’t have to be an experienced bird watcher to join in the fun. You don’t even need a pair of binoculars! All you need to do is register, put yourself somewhere for 15 minutes and start counting.

Once you register on the official website, decide where and how you want to count. The minimum amount of time invested is 15 minutes, but you can count for longer than that and in as many places and on as many days as you like—one day, two days, or all four days. Submit a separate checklist for each new day, for each new location, or for the same location if you counted at a different time of day. Estimate the number of individuals of each species you saw during your count period.

There’s a nifty free eBird Mobile app to make it easy to enter data on a mobile device. Everything, in fact, is free. All you need to do is sign up, go outside, and look up in the sky, in the trees, on your roof or maybe even on the top of your car.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Muff-Anne York-Haley

I love Bird Watching!

Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn2 years ago

thank you, our council has a bird count too

Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Thank you

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

Noted! Thank you for posting this article!

Anna Ballinger
Anna Ballinger2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Counting is not saving.

Patricia Harris
John Taylor2 years ago

To keep track of the population!

Janis K.
Janis K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Carol S.
Carol S2 years ago

What a grand idea. I will check it out.