The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up February 12-15. As some of you may know it is an effort between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada to help scientists better understand the population dynamics and movements of birds during the winter.
No doubt many of you who watch the birds have noticed that the abundance and diversity of birds in and around our homes and feeders during the winter can be quite variable. Documenting those differences and determining why they occur has been difficult for scientists to answer. With the help of citizen scientists around the world, the Great Backyard Bird Count is helping scientists better understand those populations and movements.
Participating in the bird count is easy, and by no means do you have to be an expert birder. You can work alone or in a group, and it certainly can involve kids as well as adults. I have even heard about some friendly competition between participants. You just count birds you observe for at least 15 minutes for as many of the days as you like. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species you see together at any one time. Then submit your results. You can count the birds anywhere and anytime, and many participants submit several checklists throughout the four days.
You do, however, need to get a free Cornell Lab account to officially participate and submit your checklist. The account is also associated with Project FeederWatch, eBird, and other Cornell University Lab of Ornithology projects. All the necessary information for participating is on the Great Backyard Bird Count website at birdcount.org.
The website also contains a wealth of information on birds and birding. And if you are rather new at birding, it may help you to download the Merlin Bird ID app. It is a free app to help in bird identification and allows you to save your sightings. If you are already using eBird to track your birding activity, a free eBird Mobile app is a fast way to enter your bird lists directly from your cell phone.
So, consider participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is fun, and the information you provide will help scientists better understand the population dynamics and movements of our birds.