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The Great Backyard Bird Count

Posted on Feb 13, 2014

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) started in 1998 and has now turned into an annual four-day citizen science event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Created originally by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society the GBBC requires at least one 15-minute count on any day in the period for participation. The 2014 GBBC will be taking place Friday, February 14 through Monday, February 17. RTPI staff will be participating in the GBBC and we recommend that all citizen scientists and feeder watchers do the same!

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) Stratford-001

The Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) may be a common winter yard or feeder bird but we still need to collect and analyze population data to verify and ensure they and other abundant species stay that way over the long-term

These joint conservation efforts help to tell us a lot about bird populations, movements and irruptions like the very visible Snowy Owl invasion this year. The GBBC also allows us to learn about the impact of diseases, weather and climate, range expansions, and check in on steadily declining species while bringing new bird watchers into the hobby, especially children. Every year the numbers of participants and birds discovered has been growing and in 2013 the GBBC website says that “Great Backyard Bird Count participants in 111 countries counted 33,464,616 birds on 137,998 checklists, documenting 4,258 species—more than one-third of the world’s bird species!” – some astonishing totals!

The best improvement to the GBBC in recent years is its full integration with eBird. If you are a regular eBirder or you’re looking to try it out then this weekend would be the time to do it. If you enter your data into eBird in the four-day period it will automatically be placed into the GBBC data to be available almost live around the world. While it is called the “Great Backyard Bird Count” you can and should count and find birds anywhere and everywhere. I will be heading out to survey and using eBird as always on the 14th through the 17th, trying to pick up all the birds I can so that they can be recorded forever and part of our global database. This is conservation in action with essentially instantaneous benefits and I hope that you will be able to take part.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch