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Count birds this weekend during the Great Backyard Bird Count

Yellow-rumped Warbler in Fremont, California. Photo by Val Blakely

Whether you started watching birds since the pandemic began last year or you’ve been part of the birding scene for decades, you’re going to want to get in on this weekend’s 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

People from around the world will count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists online.

The count takes place February 12 through 15. Visit the new website.

“The GBBC is a simple, welcoming project that both new and veteran birdwatchers enjoy,” says David Bonter, Co-Director of the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Birds are everywhere and can be counted in backyards, neighborhoods, suburban parks, wild areas, and cities. Scientists need the eyes of the world to collect information about where the birds are.”

During the 2020 GBBC, birdwatchers set new records for the event, turning in nearly 250,000 lists of birds seen, from more than 100 countries, identifying nearly 7,000 of the world’s estimated 10,000 bird species. Data gathered by the GBBC and other survey projects highlight changes in the numbers and distribution of wild birds over time.

Birds make us happy

“By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, community scientists contribute data that we use to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow,” said Chad Wilsey, chief scientist at National Audubon Society. “In return, studies tell us that pausing to observe birds, their sounds and movements, improve human health. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a win-win for birds and people.”

This year there is a new way to send in an observation—through the Cornell Lab’s free Merlin Bird ID app. If you use the app during the GBBC and save a bird you’ve identified, it is also counted for the GBBC. As in the past, using the eBird platform on your mobile app and computer are still great ways to enter your data. Visit the How to Participate page to learn more about entering your bird sightings.

“Why not try something new?” says Steven Price, President of Birds Canada. “If you’re an experienced birder, set yourself a challenge to see how many new birders you can get interested in counting on their own patch. If you are just beginning to learn about the birds in your yard, see if you can identify three new birds (or five new birds or 10 new birds!). Check out the resources on The Roost for more suggestions.”

Stay safe

All participants are urged to watch birds safely in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. That means following the health and safety protocols for your area, not gathering in large groups, and wearing masks if you’re unable to remain at least six feet apart from others. To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org.

Thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for providing this news.

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