Great Backyard Bird Count Asks for Your Help
Count Birds February 17-20
The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up February 17-20, 2012. People of all ages and skill levels are needed to count birds in their yards, neighborhoods, or other locations across the United States and Canada. Simply tally birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count, then go to www.birdcount.org and enter the highest number of each species seen at any one time.
Whether people observe birds in backyards, parks, or wilderness areas, the Great Backyard Bird Count is an opportunity to share their results at www.birdcount.org said Judy Braus, Audubon's vice president of Education and Centers. "It's fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels--and it gets people outside!"
"When thousands of people all tell us what they're seeing, we can detect changes in birds' numbers and locations from year to year," said Dr. Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
"While this is the depths of winter in most of Canada and only the hardiest birds brave the cold, understanding of trends in the distribution and abundance at this time of year is important as well," said Dr. George Finney, president of Bird Studies Canada.
Data from the Great Backyard Bird Count can provide an early signal of changes in bird populations. Past counts showed a drop in reports of American Crows after outbreaks of West Nile virus in 2003, a finding consistent with studies showing crow populations declined by 50-75% in some states. Maps from the count have also captured the paths of migrating Sandhill Cranes and recorded the dramatic spread Eurasian Collared-Doves. Introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s, the species was reported in just 8 states during the 1999 GBBC. A decade later, it was reported in 39 states and Canadian provinces.
For more information, including bird-ID tips, instructions, and past results, visit the Learning Center. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter their bird checklists online.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
Coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada, the count provides an instantaneous snapshot of birdlife across the continent for all to see. Anyone can watch as the tallies come in at www.birdcount.org. Organizers hope to receive more than 100,000 checklists during the event, with tallies of more than 600 bird species in all.
The most numerous bird counted in the 2011 GBBC was the European Starling-a species that was entirely absent from North America before the late 19th century. One hundred birds were introduced in New York's Central Park in 1890 and 1891. According to The Birds of North America Online, the descendants of these few birds now total more than 200 million and are distributed across the entire continent.
The American Robin was the second most numerous species reported this year with more than 800,000 reported from Florida-for the third year in a row, the site of a massive roost near St. Petersburg. Overall, GBBC participants made 1,044,346 observations of robins in 2011.