A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count

I generally don't see too many birds in the backyard - mostly crows, plus the occasional blue jay, sparrow, chickadee, or finch.  But this weekend, beginning today, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada are conducting the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count.  Rather than babble on about it myself, I've pasted the news release about the count below.  I'm going to take at least 15 minutes this weekend to see if any birds put in an appearance in my backyard.  I hope you'll do the same.

Great Backyard Bird Count Goes Global Feb. 15-18

Bird watchers worldwide invited to participate online

February 5, 2013—For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 15-18. Participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online at www.BirdCount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

This year, anyone visiting the GBBC website will be able to see bird observations pouring in from around the world and contribute their own tallies. Global participation will be made possible thanks to eBird, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon are integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year. The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands, and urban landscapes. The four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.

"We're eager to see how many of the world's 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year," said Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick. "We're looking forward to this historic snapshot of birds that that will be reported from around the world. We need as many people as possible to help build the wealth of data that scientists need to track the health of bird populations through time."
Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps and contribute their tallies for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts. For the first time, participants will also be able to upload their counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones. To celebrate the new global reach of the count, developers of the eBird BirdLog app are offering regional versions of the app for just 99 cents through February 18. Learn more

"This count is so much fun because anyone can take part, whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher," said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. "Invite new birders to join and share the experience. Once you get involved, you can continue with eBird year round."

"The popularity of the Great Backyard Bird Count grows each year," said Dick Cannings, Senior Projects Officer at Bird Studies Canada, "and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting."

Participating is easy. To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, web buttons, and flyers, visit www.BirdCount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online. Portions of the GBBC site are also now available in Spanish at www.ContandoAves.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited

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