A Blue Jay spotted in North Carolina during last year"s Great Backyard Bird Count.© Katya Porter via GBBC
Become a “citizen scientist” this winter by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). During the weekend of February 12-15, you and your family can aid in the necessary monitoring of birds across our nation, and assist research facilities at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Last year, participants recorded more than 93,600 online checklists of birds sighted, creating the continent’s largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.
“The GBBC is a perfect first step toward the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change,” says Janis Dickinson, Director of Citizen Science at Cornell Lab. “Winter is such a vulnerable period for birds, so winter bird distributions are likely to be very sensitive to change. There is only one way—citizen science— to gather data on private lands where people live….GBBC has enormous potential both as an early warning system and in capturing and engaging people in more intensive sampling of birds across the landscape.”
After entering sighting data at birdcount.org, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that follow the birds" movements. Contributors are also encouraged to submit photographs they have taken during the count to the GBBC photo contest where they will be entered to win an assortment of prizes.
"Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds—all at the same time,” says Audubon Education Vice President Judy Braus. “Even if you can identify a few species you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities."