February’s action for the Year of the Bird is to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)!
Everyone can participate in this en masse data collection event from Feb 16-19–even you!
You don’t need to be an expert birder. Not very confident about your bird ID? You might surprise yourself and already recognize more species than you think! If you want a refresher, Audubon has put together a guide to IDing 15 of the most common backyard birds. There are more bird ID resources on the GBBC website.
You don’t need to have a bird feeder or a back yard–you can count birds anywhere!
Audubon has put together a comprehensive article with everything you need to know to prep for and participate in the GBBC. The highlights are below:
Step 1: Sign up at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology! (if you already have participate in ebird, Project Feederwatch, you can use your log-in info from that!)
Step 2: Make a plan! Decide when and where you want to count! You can count for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as you want. You can stick to one location (even from your living room window) or you can count at several spots.
Step 3: Get out and count! You are reporting two pieces of information: 1) identification for each species that you see and hear, and 2) the number of individuals of each species. It’s ok if you can’t get precise counts! Estimates are ok. It’s also ok if you can’t identify everything that you see and hear–just report what you’re confident about; the information is still useful. Don’t forget to note your start and end times and location. Make a new list for each new location or new time.
Step 5: Wait for the grand tally! The GBBC is a massive collective effort! Last year, people from over 130 countries submitted 162,052 lists! That’s a lot of bird-counting!
So, who’s with me? Find some friends and make it a party! Take your favorite kid outside to learn about science and enjoy the wonder of birds. Or take yourself on a hike and indulge in quiet contemplation, fresh air, and the opportunity to stand so still that the birds forget you’re there. However you do it–for however long, or in however many spots–you’ll be part of creating a weekend-long snapshot of global avifauna. Even with a such a simple methodology, there is power in sheer numbers, and this type of collective effort gives a perspective that the most nuanced smaller scale study cannot. Plus, it’s FUN!