Citizen Science

Count Birds for Science

Whether you’re a longtime birder or new to the hobby, your observations can contribute to citizen science and help protect birds.

At the National Audubon Society, we rely on bird watchers—our citizen scientists—from across the globe to inform our science and conservation activities. Recently, you may have seen Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report that drew on more than three decades of citizen science data from across the country. Bird-related citizen science efforts are critical to understanding how birds are responding to a changing climate, which species are most threatened by climate change, and the best ways to help these populations survive.

Whether you’ve been watching birds for two decades or two weeks, there are many easy ways you can help protect birds in backyards across America. From the Christmas Bird Count, to our Great Backyard Bird Count, to the eBird tool, below are three simple ways you can help.

Together, we can help ensure the birds we all love will be around for generations to come.

Christmas Bird Count

For more than 100 years, the Christmas Bird Count, the nation’s longest-running citizen science bird project, has fueled Audubon science year-round. Each winter, from December 14 through January 5, tens of thousands of volunteers brave snow, wind, or rain to take part in the effort. Birders gather in 15-mile-wide circles, organized by a count compiler, and count every bird they see or hear. You can find out how to join the next Christmas Bird Count here.

Great Backyard Bird Count

About 140,000 participants submit their observations every year as part of the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project between Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Whether you have 15 minutes or want to dedicate the full four days, GBBC is a way for newbies and experts alike to beat the winter blues. The 2016 GBBC will be February 12 through 15. You can keep your eyes on the sky, share data, and check out interactive maps here.

Make eBird part of your outdoor routine

Since its creation in 2002, eBird—a free, online crowdsourcing platform for monitoring bird sightings and making real-time queries—has fundamentally changed the citizen science world. Signup is easy, and users simply log their birding activities by tracking all the birds they see, not just the unusual ones. Long-time users say that eBird has changed the way they go birding. When every sighting counts on a checklist, even the common species become more interesting.

How you can help, right now