Friday, February 18, through Monday, February 21.
This year I plan to recruit my parents to help. They live in the woods and spend most of the day watching the birds anyway. I'm also going to pester my friend Laura to help. She invited me to go birdwatching with a local bird club Saturday morning so that will be easy.
Why bother you say?
Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.
Make sure the birds from your community are well represented in the count. It doesn't matter whether you report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day's outing to a wildlife refuge.
Your counts can help answer many questions:
How will this winter's snow and cold temperatures influence bird populations?
Where are winter finches and other “irruptive” species that appear in large numbers during some years but not others?
How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?
Are any birds undergoing worrisome declines that point to the need for conservation attention?
Brown Pelican, Bob Howdeshell, TN
Scientists use the counts, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to give us an immense picture of our winter birds. Each year that these data are collected makes them more meaningful and allows scientists to investigate far-reaching questions.
For highlights of past results, visit the Science Stories section of the GBBC web site.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.
1. Plan to count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. You can count for longer than that if you wish! Count birds 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. You can also submit more than one checklist per day if you count in other locations on that day.
2. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species that you see together at any one time. You may find it helpful to print out your regional bird checklist to get an idea of the kinds of birds you're likely to see in your area in February. You could take note of the highest number of each species you see on this checklist.
3. When you're finished, enter your results through our web page. You'll see a button marked "Enter Your Checklists!" on the website home page beginning on the first day of the count. It will remain active until the deadline for data submission on March 1st.