Plenty of people turned to birdwatching during the past year, seeking enjoyment and relaxation. Chickadees, cardinals, finches and other birds are doing their part to lift human spirits.
The 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), Feb. 12-15, is a great opportunity for budding birdwatchers and bird-count veterans to use their skills. People from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists online.
“The GBBC is a simple, welcoming project that both new and veteran birdwatchers enjoy,” said David Bonter, co-director of the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Birds are everywhere and can be counted in backyards, neighborhoods, suburban parks, wild areas and cities. Scientists need the eyes of the world to collect information about where the birds are.”
During the 2020 GBBC, birdwatchers set new records for the event, turning in nearly 250,000 lists of birds seen, from more than 100 countries, identifying nearly 7,000 of the world’s estimated 10,000 bird species. Data gathered by the GBBC and other survey projects highlight changes in the numbers and distribution of wild birds over time.
This year there is a new way to send in an observation – through the Cornell Lab’s free Merlin Bird ID app. If you use the app during the GBBC and save a bird you’ve identified, it is also counted for the GBBC. As in the past, using the eBird platform on your mobile app and computer are still great ways to enter your data. Visit the How to Participate page to learn more about entering your bird sightings.
All participants are urged to watch birds safely in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That means following the health and safety protocols for your area, not gathering in large groups, and wearing masks if you’re unable to remain at least 6 feet apart from others.