It’s time for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

1/31/2014 | 0

Black-capped Chickadee by Robert Mancini.

Black-capped Chickadee by Robert Mancini.

Get ready to count chickadees! The annual Great Backyard Bird Count starts on Friday, February 14.

Birdwatchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in this year’s count, which runs through February 17. You should join them.

Learn about the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Anyone anywhere can participate. All you have to do is count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and then enter your sightings at www.BirdCount.org. The information that you and other counters provide will help scientists track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.

“People who care about birds can change the world,” says Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.”

Data from participants in North America will help define the magnitude of this year’s dramatic irruption of Snowy Owls. Birdwatchers will also help determine whether Eurasian Collared-Dove, an invasive species, has expanded its range again, how well American Crow is faring after being hit hard by the West Nile virus, and whether more insect-eating species are showing up in new areas, possibly because of changing climate.

See photos of Snowy Owls that were part of this winter’s invasion.

Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time, thanks to integration with eBird. Participants reported their bird sightings from all seven continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded — nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.

Last year’s record-setting count was one of our 42 most important stories of 2013.

Read a summary of the 2013 count.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada. It is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

About the artist: Rob Mancini

Robert Mancini is an award-winning illustrator and artist with a lifelong interest in nature and birds and a passion for shorebirds and waders. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. Mancini has illustrated many natural history titles, including books published by The Nature Company (among these Birding and Natural Gardening) and by National Geographic, Australian Geographic, and Readers’ Digest. You can view his artwork and purchase a print of the illustration above on Etsy at RobManciniImages.

Read about five of our favorite birding events in early February.

See a list of Bald Eagle events taking place in February.