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It’s time for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Northern Cardinal in Alabama, January 23, 2016, by Tena Southern.
Northern Cardinal in Alabama, January 23, 2016, by Tena Southern.

It’s time to count birds! The annual Great Backyard Bird Count starts on Friday, February 12.

Birdwatchers around the world submitted a record number of checklists and identified a record number of species during last year’s count. No fewer than 147,265 checklists were turned in, and 5,090 species — more than 42 percent of the world’s species — were reported.

The total included 784 species in Ecuador, the most tallied in any country, and 717 in India, the second highest country total.

Incredibly, over 12 million individual birds, were counted, including 1,494,937 Snow Geese, 1,110,946 Canada Geese, and more than a million Brambling, a species widespread throughout the forests of northern Europe and Asia. (They came from a single checklist in Germany.)

See a Bambling that was photographed in Medina, Ohio, in January.

Birdwatchers in the United States turned in 108,396 checklists, more than any other country, and recorded 671 species. Counters in Canada submitted 10,491 checklists and tallied 241 species. The five most frequently reported species were Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, and Blue Jay.


Of interest for winter-finch watchers, 2015 turned out to be a banner year for Pine Siskin. The species was reported on 10.5 percent of checklists, a big increase from the year before, when most of the birds stayed in Canada. The siskin was reported on just 1.2 percent of checklists in 2014.

You should join the fun this year. Participating is easy. Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world! This year’s count takes place February 12-15.

The event is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Bird Studies Canada is a partner.


Scientists use information gathered during the count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to understand what is happening to bird populations. The longer such data are collected, the more meaningful they become. This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count will be the 19th.

Learn more about the count.

See photos of birds in our U.S. and Canada and Backyard galleries.


The 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count was one of last year’s most important stories about birds.

Read Cornell’s summary of last year’s count.


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