For the first time, anyone, anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) Feb. 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 Web site 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 back yards, 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 Feb. 18.
“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 and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting,” said Dick Cannings, senior projects officer at Bird Studies Canada.
Participating is easy. To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, Web buttons and fliers, 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.