The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) runs from Feb 16-19, 2024, which is an unique opportunity to get the family involved in this popular hobby to record bird sightings. This annual Bird Count unites the world in this one endeavor.
An event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations, the GBBC is a great activity for kids and adults. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org.
Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. Sounds easy… and no stress? Just count your bird sightings for 15 minutes and you have contributed to the backyard bird statistics that scientist use for their research.
Citizen Science is trendy now for good reason. People feel empowered when they can contribute to the data base that scientists from all over the world can use in their studies of bird migrations. And what better research than backyard bird behaviors and numbers? This part of the natural world is very visible and of interest to many people, and gets kids engaged in the natural world.
We are a nation of ‘bird feeders’! More than 52 million Americans feed wild birds or other wildlife around their homes according to The Bird Watching Daily. Some statistics: “Two-thirds are women, and nearly 60 percent were between the ages of 45 and 64. On average, participants had been feeding birds for 18 years”. Wanting to bring nature, therapy, education, and beauty to their backyard, many bird feeders are passionate about birds and spend big bucks on this multi-million industry. Suet, nectar feeding, bird feeders, houses, and baths can be added to this list along with the more mundane birdseed. For my suet recipe, go to Suet for the Birds.
Another important fact on The Bird Watching Daily: “Participation in the wild-bird-feeding hobby” they write, “may be an excellent catalyst for engagement in greater levels of outdoor recreation and greater stewardship of the natural world.” Amen! We need more outdoor appreciation and engagement of our natural world in this digital age.
- Count birds anywhere you want. Inside, observing your bird feeder, or outside on a hike for at least 15 minutes. Keep track of the numbers and species and the time length.
- Make an estimate of how many birds you saw of each species. Flocks of birds are tough, but use your best guess.
- Enter your list online at BirdCount.0rg, after first establishing an account. You can start recording your bird sightings at midnight local time on the first day of the count from anywhere in the world.
Bird populations are always shifting and changing and in 2014, Snowy Owl sightings spiked in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, which were recorded on the GBBC. Like a bellwether, climate changes such as warming weather also shows up in these bird counts. More southerly birds are migrating further north, or birds are changing their routes, shortening or completely cancelling their journey as a result of changing temperatures.
Some birds, such as winter finches, appear in large numbers during some years but not other species. Scientists can learn from the different patterns exhibited from year to year.
It is always interesting to look at the results. According to the GBBC website – “Collectively, we found 7,538 species of birds—2/3 of the known 10,960 species we share the planet with. More than 200 countries came together to share bird sightings, making our global submission map light up for four consecutive days.” To see the summary of results for 2023, go to GBBC Summary for 2023 and see the top sighted birds. Even if you can’t identify all your birds that you have observed, if you look at these lists and photos, you are sure to spot your local birds.
I was especially interested in what others spotted in my area, here in Maryland, and if you go to Explore local results, you can see what was reported in your neck of the woods.
Want to learn more? Register for a free livestream event on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 – 1:00–2:00 p.m. Eastern. Panelists will explain how to participate in this exciting global event and how participation might extend past your back door. Discover how to join a group taking part in the GBBC and explore fun ways to involve kids. From bird ID tips to counting birds with ease, this webinar is your ticket to an engaging and confident GBBC experience. Click on this link to learn more and register: