Citizen Science

The Results Are In: GBBC Continues to Shatter Records

The 17th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count was a huge success. Thank you to the GBBC partners, National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, for making this event possible and for providing this performance recap.

Hundreds of thousands of citizen scientists across the globe participated in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count shattering records and enhancing data for bird conservation!

By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, February 18, participants from a record 127 countries had submitted bird checklists for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, eclipsing last year’s 110 countries. Over 4 days, 4,000 species were observed, 132,000 checklists were submitted and more than 16 MILLION individual birds were counted! Now that’s a lot of birding.

North Carolina is for the birds and we have continued to prove it. With close to 5,000 checklists submitted, NC is ranked 8th in the country. NC birders submitted 4,706 checklists spotting close to 200 individual species, with the Canada Goose taking the top spot. Congratulations to Wake, Mecklenburg and Durham Counties for submitting the most checklists! Click here to see how your county performed.

Here are a few highlights from the weekend:

Top 10 most frequently reported species (number of checklists reporting this species):

Top 10 most numerous species (sum of how many individuals were observed across all checklists):

  • Fewer Finches

    After last year’s “superflight,” this year’s GBBC reports for 10 irruptive species (mostly finches) are down considerably. This includes reports for the White-winged and Red crossbills, Common and Hoary redpolls, Pine and Evening grosbeaks, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Bohemian Waxwings. These are natural fluctuations in numbers because of variation in seed crops.

  •  Snowy Owl Invasion Continues

    A massive irruption of Snowy Owls into the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes States of the U.S., as well as southeastern Canada, is easily seen in GBBC numbers. Preliminary results show more than 2,500 Snowy Owls being reported in 25 states and 7 provinces of the U.S. and Canada!

  • The Polar Vortex Effect

    The impact of frigid cold in many part of North America has resulted in unusual movements of waterfowl and grebes. With the Great Lakes almost completely frozen, some species, such as the White-winged Scoter and the Long-tailed Duck have fled the frozen lakes and stopped at inland locations where they are not usually found at this time of year.

This year’s GBBC may be over but the stats are still rolling in. These checklist and species numbers will continue to rise as GBBC participants enter their data for the four days of the count through the end of the month. Explore what’s being reported with the new “Explore a Location” tool.  See what species are being reported and how many checklists are being turned in at the county, state/province, and country levels.

The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada, and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

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