Spotlight: Help Us Count Birds, Become a Citizen Scientist
Help scientists get the “big picture” about bird populations.
This winter, become a “citizen scientist” by participating in the 114th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) or the 17th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The CBC is a joint project between the National Audubon Society and partners in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, while the Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. Both events engage bird watchers of all ages and all experience levels. Participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period and then enter the numbers onto the event website.
Scientists use the information, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as Project FeederWatch and eBird, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate such far-reaching questions as the timing of bird migrations or how a change in climate might influence bird populations.
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Getting started is as easy as 1, 2, 3! This winter, the Great Backyard Bird Count takes place from February 14-17, 2014. You can count birds from any location for as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. You can count birds in your own backyard, your local city, county, regional, state or federal park, or join an event that’s taking place near you. You’ll need to count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the GBBC and submit a new checklist for each new day and each new location. If you’re new to bird watching, you might want to check out this section of the GBBC website for help with tricky bird identifications, choosing binoculars, bird feeding tips, and much more.
The Christmas Bird Count events can take place any day from December 14, 2013 through January 5, 2014. CBC counts require at least ten volunteers spread out over a 15-mile diameter area. Many federal lands sponsor CBC events, so find a circle near you and check the map for locations across the U.S.
National Wildlife Refuges are great places to go birding. There is at least one refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. These areas, encompassing more than 150 million acres, provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds. Each year, millions of migrating birds use refuges as stepping stones as they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes. For some great birding resources visit our website for tips on kids and families, backyard birding, some inspiring conservation stories, and some other ways to get involved with our conservation efforts.
Make Sure YouCheck out the GBBC website for some cool activities for kids. Parents and kids can print out images and fact sheets to color, print out jigsaw puzzles, identify birds by sound by playing the Guess Who’s Squawkin’ game, a crossword puzzle, and more.
Participants can also send in photographs of the birds they see for the GBBC photo contest. A selection of images is posted in the on-line photo gallery.