Backyard bird count goes global
For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 15-18.
Participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online at www.birdcount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.
This year, anyone visiting the GBBC website will be able to see bird observations pouring in from around the world and contribute their own tallies. Global participation will be made possible thanks to eBird, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon are integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year.
The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands and urban landscapes. The four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.
"We're eager to see how many of the world's 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year," said Cornell Lab Director John Fitzpatrick. "We're looking forward to this historic snapshot of birds that that will be reported from around the world. We need as many people as possible to help build the wealth of data that scientists need to track the health of bird populations through time."
Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps and contribute their tallies for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts. For the first time, participants will also be able to upload their counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones.
Just how big is this year's irruption of northern finches and other species such as the Red-breasted Nuthatch? GBBC reports will help define the answer.
"This count is so much fun because anyone can take part, whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher," said Gary Langham, Audubon's chief scientist. "Invite new birders to join and share the experience. Once you get involved, you can continue with eBird year round."
"The popularity of the Great Backyard Bird Count grows each year," said Dick Cannings, senior projects officer at Bird Studies Canada, "and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting."
Participating is easy. To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, web buttons and flyers, visitwww.birdcount.org.