Valentine’s Day kicks off this family day weekend. Besides showing love to those of the human kind, how about contributing some citizen science for the love of birds? This can be done on your own, with family, and/or in a group.
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place over four days, Feb. 14-17, 2020. It is a global event and a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Birds Canada is the official Canadian partner. GBBC is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least a 15 minute period on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists on the GBBC website.
The count is not restricted to backyards, despite its name. Each volunteer or group choses a nearby location to count birds. Counting can be done while looking out a window, outside in a backyard, or in a nearby park or other outdoor space in urban and rural settings. Participants can be beginners or experts.
The GBBC website has information on how to participate, how to mark the count location, a downloadable bird checklist, how to identify some tricky bird species as well as links to birding apps. Participants can report just one bird, or groups of them using a best guess at numbers.
The online form requires a new checklist for each new day, location, or same location, same day, if counted at a different time of day.
It’s not only fun to see what is in your own backyard or neighbourhood, the count also helps scientists know the health of birds and if there is any decline in numbers.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program , which collects the GBBC data, says, "In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody's help.”
"Birds are important because they're excellent indicators of the health of our ecosystems. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the easiest and best ways to help scientists understand how our changing climate may be affecting the world’s birdlife," says Chad Wilsey, interim Chief Scientist for National Audubon Society.
While helping science, participants are invited to enter a photo contest and share experiences and photos on social media. The data collected by individuals can also be shared anonymously.
The Great Backyard Bird Count offers an opportunity to discover wildlife, get outdoors in winter, find like-minded people online or in the community, include family and friends, and to be one of many helping birds and the planet as part of the global family. We all belong to the same ecosystem.
Share the love this family day weekend.
To create an account and participate visit: gbbc.birdcount.org
If you already have an account for eBird, Project Feederwatch, NestWatch or YardMap projects, use that login information.
Rosaleen Egan is a freelance journalist, a playwright, and a storyteller. She blogs on her website rosiewrites.com