Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a citizen science project organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

In the United States it was first conducted in 1998.  In 2013 it was launched as a global event.  Two years later nearly half the known bird species worldwide were reported.

The GBBC is the first citizen science project of it’s kind.  The collection of sightings online and display of the data is available close to real time.  Last year there were more than 160,000 participants.  This was the largest instantaneous recording of global bird populations ever offered.

The information is used to track species migration and population trends.  Because it is always the second week in February the data can be used to give an accurate snapshot in time from year to year.  Observations can be used to follow species habits and how various things effect their populations and migration patterns.  According to their website:

“Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2014 GBBC data highlighted a large irruption of Snowy Owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes areas of the United States. The data also showed the effects that warm weather patterns have had on bird movement around the country.”

This year’s GBBC is occurring on February 14th through February 17th.  Participants of all skill levels are asked to observe and record quantities of all the birds they can identify for at least 15 minutes.  All data is submitted through  You will also need to keep track of any measurable distance you travel and how many people are observing with you.

It should be noted, that although it is called The Great Backyard Bird Count, you can count from anywhere you would like, including your favorite park, forest preserve, lake, or just along the side of the road somewhere.  Just be sure that you count for a minimum of 15 minutes and include all the species you can identify, even those pesky House Sparrows and European Starlings.

For the shutterbugs there is also a photo contest with 6 categories.  The categories are overall, behavior, composition, habitat, group and people.  Prizes are feeders to encourage birds to visit your yard for next year’s GBBC.

Please feel free to contact a member if you have any questions.

Sources and relevant links:

Happy Counting!
Jessica Runner

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