Help scientists around the world understand and protect birds in this global event
Every February, bird lovers around the world gather to observe and count birds in their area to help scientists understand bird migration, conservation efforts and more during an event known as the Great Backyard Bird Count. This year’s event will take place Feb. 17-20 and it’s easy to get involved. With minimal equipment and your smartphone or computer, you can help scientists around the world get a better understanding of the birds we share our world with.
How to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a joint venture between the Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada to help study and preserve vital bird populations. Amateur and professional birdwatchers are invited to contribute to the study individually or in groups. Simply decide on a location to watch birds and observe the environment for at least 15 minutes at least once over the four days of the event.
As you watch, identify all the birds you see or hear and record them using an app or on a printed GBBC checklist. To get started, go to http://www.birdcount.org/participate/ to learn more.
Great Backyard Bird Count apps
The Great Backyard Bird Count recommends two apps to count birds during the event: Merlin Bird ID or eBird.
If you’re new to birdwatching, or if this is your first year participating in the count, Merlin is the recommended app to use. The Merlin app, from the Cornell Lab, guides you through a brief series of questions to help you identify birds. Merlin can also help identify birds based on photos you take or recordings of birdsong. The app is available in 11 languages to help get more people involved in birdwatching.
For more advanced birders, or those who have participated in the GBBC before, try using the eBird app or website. This app lets you start a checklist of bird sightings and add them directly to the global database of bird records. GPS tracking can help you record where you went and how long you explored so you can focus on birdwatching. At the end of your count, tap “Stop” and enter the data about your birdwatching session.
If you prefer to tally your bird count on paper and enter your data later, you can use https://ebird.org/gbbc/submit to upload your sightings. Remember to include your location, the date of your observation and its duration, as well as the birds you saw. Data from both apps and the desktop version of eBird all go to the same Cornell database for analysis.
Best birdwatching products
Attract a wide variety of birds for your count with this simple feeder, which can be filled with a mix of birdseed for broader appeal. It’s made in the USA from recycled plastic and a durable powder-coated metal screen.
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This hummingbird feeder is designed to optimize comfortable feeding for all hummingbird species. Made from BPA-free and recyclable materials, it features four bee-deterring ports and holds 10 ounces of nectar.
Feed your wild birds without making a mess of your lawn or deck with this seed mix, which contains 40% hull-less sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds attract lots of birds, and they’re especially popular with cardinals and finches.
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Identify the birds in your yard or on your hike with this trusted reference guide. It features more than 3,500 color photographs of more than 800 species of birds, along with information on the bird’s range, nesting habits, conservation status and more.
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This regional guide from bird authority David Sibley features 650 bird species that can be found east of the Rocky Mountains. Sibley guides are available for the Western region as well to help you identify feathered visitors no matter where in the USA you live.
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These high-quality binoculars offer 10x magnification for excellent image quality and color. The multi-coated, 42-millimeter lenses resist smudging, scratching and dirt. Adjustable eyecups, a tripod mount and a center focus wheel help create a universally comfortable viewing experience.
Whether you’re birdwatching outdoors or from the comfort of your home, this all-weather notebook lets you track your findings and sketch what birds you see. If the wood-based paper gets wet, it can still be written on with a standard pencil.
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