As Valentine’s Weekend approaches, birders everywhere are showing a love of birds by counting during the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The 18th annual citizen science event will take place February 13 through 16 giving birders an opportunity to become citizen scientists from their own backyards.
Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track changes in bird populations on a massive scale.
“The Great Backyard Bird Count is the perfect follow-up to the Christmas Bird Count allowing us to track bird movements throughout the winter months,” says Heather Hahn, Audubon North Carolina Executive Director. “The data collected by thousands of citizen scientists across North Carolina is increasingly important to Audubon’s work as we develop new conservation methods to protect our birds from the effects of climate change.”
North Carolina continues to be a top-performing state for the GBBC. During last year’s citizen science event, more than 5,000 checklists were submitted in our state. The largest single species count was 12,000 Redheads at Ocracoke Island, and the most frequently reported species were the Northern Cardinal and Dark-eyed Junco. In total, 204 individual species were spotted during the four-day event.
Bird watchers from 135 countries participated in the 2014 count, documenting nearly 4,300 species on more than 144,000 bird checklists. Many fell in love with the magnificent Snowy Owl during the last count when the birds were reported in unprecedented numbers across southeastern Canada, the Great Lakes states, the Northeast and down the Atlantic Coast. Expect Snowy Owls to show up in higher numbers during this year’s GBBC, too.
“This may also be a big year for finches,” notes Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham. “GBBC participants in North America should be on the lookout for larger numbers of Pine Siskins and redpolls. These birds also push farther south when pine cone seed crops fail in the far north of Canada.”
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and show some love for birds this Valentine’s Day. Participation is free and easy. GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada. To learn more about how to join the count, download instructions, a slide show, web buttons and other materials, visit www.birdcount.org. While you’re there, get inspired by the winning photos from the 2014 GBBC photo contest and explore local bird activity here.
About Audubon North Carolina
With a century of conservation history in North Carolina, Audubon strives to conserve and restore the habitats we share with all wildlife, focusing on the needs of birds. Audubon North Carolina achieves its mission through a blend of science-based research and conservation, education and outreach, and advocacy. Audubon North Carolina has offices in Corolla, Boone, Wilmington and Chapel Hill.