Annual back yard bird count begins Friday

Published on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 by Tara Nelson

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Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15. 

Participants in the free event will join tens of thousands of volunteers counting birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.

Each checklist submitted by these “citizen scientists” helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada to learn more about how the birds are doing – and how to protect them.

Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

“Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds ­– all at the same time,” said Audubon education vice president, Judy Braus. “Even if you can identify a few species you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities.”

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org.

One 2009 participant said, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!”

“The GBBC is a perfect first step toward the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change,” said Janis Dickinson, Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab.

Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2009 GBBC data highlighted a huge southern invasion of Pine Siskins across much of the eastern United States.

Participants counted 279,469 Pine Siskins on 18,528 checklists, as compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005. Failure of seed crops farther north caused the siskins to move south to find their favorite food.


For more information about the GBBC, visit www.birdcount.org or contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at 800/843-2473, gbbc@cornell.edu, or Audubon at 202/861-2242 ext. 3050, email citizenscience@audubon.org.