The 21st Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place February 16 to 19 all over the world—in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies and beaches. This global event provides an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to contribute important bird population data that help scientists see changes over the past twenty-one years. To participate, bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.
“The 2018 GBBC again promises to provide an important snapshot of bird occurrence in February,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. “Some stories to watch are mountain birds moving into lowland valleys and east to the Great Plains, crossbills on the move across much of the continent, and many eastern birds responding to extremes as the winter temperatures have oscillated between unseasonably warm and exceptionally cold.”
eBird collects bird observations globally every day of the year and is the online platform used by the GBBC.
"The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to introduce people to participation in community science," says Dr. Gary Langham (@GaryLangham), vice president and chief scientist for the National Audubon Society. "No other program allows volunteers to take an instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations that can contribute to our understanding of how a changing climate is affecting birds."
In 1998, during the first GBBC, bird watchers submitted about 13,500 checklists from the United States and Canada. Fast-forward to the most recent event in 2017, which was the biggest count in the GBBC's 20-year history. Over the four days of the count, an estimated 214,018 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 173,826 bird checklists reporting 5,940 species—representing more than half of the known bird species in the world.
“Will we break last year’s record number of Canadian participants?” asks Jon McCracken, Bird Studies Canada's National Program Director. “A lot depends on the weather, but a little snow and cold shouldn’t get in your way. Remember that you don’t have to venture far afield at all. You truly can count birds right in your own backyard or, better yet, take a pleasant winter stroll around your neighborhood.”
To learn more about what scientists discovered the past 21 years and how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
The 21st GBBC is additionally notable because participation is part of the Year of the Bird, a 12-month celebration of birds and raising awareness of the threats birds face around the world. The Year of the Bird is organized by National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International and dozens of other partners.
About Year of the Bird
Through 12 months of storytelling, science research and conservation efforts, the Year of the Bird is a partnership between the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and BirdLife International. Participants will examine how our changing environment is driving dramatic losses among bird species around the globe and highlight what we can do to help bring birds back. Each month will include a call to action, and this February participating organizations are encouraging participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Participating organizations include nonprofit and conservation groups, state and federal agencies, zoos, nature centers, and ornithological societies that are working together to raise the visibility of birds and inspire action through #BirdYourWorld throughout 2018. Learn more at www.birdyourworld.org.