The 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will be held Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2016. The GBBC is an annual free, fun, and easy four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds all across the world to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate.
Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, at local parks, nature centers, or anywhere in the world. The whole family can get involved in this fun event.
Originally, the GBBC was held in just the U.S. and Canada to create a snapshot of the distribution of birds just before spring migrations begin in March. Scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and elsewhere combine this information with data from surveys conducted at different times of the year.
In 2013, the count went global, creating snapshots of birds wherever they are in February, regardless of seasons across the hemispheres. Last year, more than 147,265 bird checklists were submitted, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded. The 5,090 species reported represents nearly half the possible bird species in the world.
On the GBBC web site, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site also has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators.
Participants can also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All participants will be entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and other great birding products.
Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share.