Join the Great Backyard Bird Count – good for you, good for birds

Children use binoculars to watch birds through a window. PHOTO COURTESY OF CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY

The 26th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place Friday, February 17, through Monday, February 20. Bird and nature lovers everywhere unite in the effort to tally as many of the world’s bird species as possible over these four days. Combined with other bird counts, GBBC results help create a clearer picture of how birds are faring – whether individual species are declining, increasing, or holding steady in the face of habitat loss, climate change, and other threats.

“Based on the recently released State of the Birds report, we know that half the bird species in the United States and Canada are decreasing,” said David Bonter, co-director of the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab. “We absolutely need the eyes and ears of birdwatchers to give us the big picture when it comes to shifting bird populations.”

Each participant or group counts birds for any length of time (but for at least 15 minutes) and enters the birds they could identify at each site they visited, whether that be from home, at a local park, or in a wilderness area. Those new to the event should read the How to Participate instructions (https://www.birdcount.org/participate/). People of all ages and skill levels are welcome. And there’s another reason to count the birds: It’s good for you.

“Take a moment over this long weekend to observe, listen to, and count birds and improve your health, too. Birdwatching and being in nature can reduce stress and improve your mood,” said Chad Wilsey, chief scientist and vice president at National Audubon Society.

An estimated 385,000 people participated during the 2022 GBBC. They reported more than 7,000 species from 192 countries. Many GBBC participants discover a new fascination with birds and enjoy exploring (and comparing) results from around the world.

Red-headed Woodpecker, Manny Salas, Macaulay Library. PHOTO COURTESY OF CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY

“The Great Backyard Bird Count is a stepping stone towards bird conservation,” said Patrick Nadeau, president of Birds Canada. “Taking this step in February launches a journey of discovery whether you’re just beginning to learn about the birds around you or an experienced birder watching out for new feathered friends! “

The GBBC website has tools and information to help birdwatching newbies and veterans participate in the count.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada and is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Step-by-step instructions for entering your bird lists for the GBBC:

* Merlin Bird ID app: https://www.birdcount.org/merlin-bird-id-app

Dark-eyed Junco, Rowan Keunen, Macaulay Library. PHOTO COURTESY OF CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY

* eBird Mobile app: https://www.birdcount.org/ebird-mobile-app

* eBird on a computer: https://www.birdcount.org/ebird-on-computer