Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org.
“I look forward to this event because people of all bird-watching skills can contribute their knowledge to scientists studying birds’ winter ranges and population numbers,” says Andy Wood, Education Director for Audubon North Carolina. “Count participants need not search for rare and obscure birds, but rather, just observe and log the birds they see in a park, their back yard, or some remote birding destination.”
As well, as part of the “Year of the Birds” celebration in 2010, several state parks are hosting Great Backyard Bird Count events and field trips this weekend. These events are listed on the state parks website.
Each checklist submitted by these "citizen scientists" helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.
Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2009 GBBC data highlighted a huge southern invasion of Pine Siskins across much of the eastern United States. Participants counted 279,469 Pine Siskins on 18,528 checklists, as compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005. Failure of seed crops farther north caused the siskins to move south to find their favorite food.
On the www.birdcount.org website, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators. Participants may also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.
For more information about the GBBC, visit www.birdcount.org. Or contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 or (outside the U.S., call (607) 254-2473) or GBBC at Cornell University, or Audubon at Citizen Science at the Audubon Society or (202) 861-2242 ext 3050.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by generous support from Wild Birds Unlimited.
Editors: Visit the GBBC News Room for high-resolution images, top-10 lists, FAQs, bird sounds, and results of the 2009 count.
Audubon North Carolina is the state office of the National Audubon Society representing 10,000 grassroots members and nine local chapters across the state. With a century of conservation history in North Carolina, Audubon strives to conserve and restore the habitats we share with all wildlife, focusing on the needs of birds. Audubon North Carolina achieves its mission through a blend of science-based research and conservation, education and outreach, and advocacy. Read the full article