Spotlight: The Great Backyard Bird Count
Help scientists get the “big picture” about bird populations.
What’s It About?
The 16th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is all about “citizen scientists”! The event is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, along with Canadian partner, Bird Studies Canada. Bird watchers of all ages and all experience levels are invited to participate by recording the number of individual bird species observed during a specific count period and then entering those numbers on the GBBC website. Scientists use the GBBC information, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch and eBird, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer “citizen scientists” collect data, the more meaningful the data becomes in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions such as the timing of bird migrations or how a change in climate might influence bird populations. Check out these highlights of past events to get a sense of what scientists are learning.
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Getting started is as easy as 1, 2, 3! This year’s event takes place from February 15-18. You can choose to 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. Participate in your own backyard, your local city, county, regional, state or federal park, or maybe 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 the Learn About Birds section of the GBBC website for help with tricky bird identifications, bird feeding tips and much more.
National Wildlife Refuges are great places to go birding and there are refuges within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Refuges encompass more than 150 million acres and provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds. Each year, refuges are “stepping stones” for millions of migrating birds as they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes. For some great birding resources visit the refuge on-line 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 You
Get the kids involved! 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, or try a crossword puzzle.
Participants may 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.