Just 15 minutes is all you need to take part in one of the largest avian census events in the world. The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place between Friday, Feb. 14, and Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, drawing birders from around the world together to capture a snapshot of global bird populations.
Why Enter the Great Backyard Bird Count?
According to Audubon, 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.”
Bird populations in North America and the rst of the world are highly dynamic, given the migratory patterns of most species. With climate change and habitat destruction making more of an impact on these species with every passing year, it’s important to have an estimated baseline against which scientists can measure changes in behavior. For example, data gleaned from the GBBC in 2014 highlighted out how warm weather patterns across the US had disrupted bird movement in North America, particularly Snowy Owls, whose trips were either delayed or rerouted through the mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions.
Who can enter the Great Backyard Bird Count?
Anyone can take part in the GBBC, and last year many did. As Audubon reports, more than 160,000 people filled out bird surveys online at birdcount.org.
“This count is so fun because anyone can take part—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” said Chad Wilsey, Interim Chief Scientist. “I enjoy discovering the birds that occur in my own back yard and on my block and then comparing with others. Get involved and see how your favorite spot stacks up.”
How do I enter the Great Backyard Bird Count?
The process is simple:
- Visit birdcount.org and create a free account, unless you’ve already been through this before, in which case, sign in!
- Count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the GBBC. Count for as long as you want, on as many days as you want, just make sure you write down what kinds of birds you see, and where and when you saw them.
- Enter your results on the GBBC website. Click the “Submit Observations” tab on the home page and you’re all set!
For those who would rather use their smart phones for birding, rather than sitting down at a desk, you can still take part in the GBBC and submit your findings using the eBird Mobile app.
Before you start searching for birds
The GBBC photo contest is always a great gallery to visit, but there are rules to entry. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the photo contest rules before submitting your snaps.
Not everyone taking part in the GBBC is an expert birder. Perhaps that’s not the case for yourself, but for others who may have less of an encyclopedic understanding of our feathered friends, Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology offer several free resources to help participants identify the birds they spot.
Good luck, and happy birding!
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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