Birding and Bird Watching

Great Backyard Bird Count Should Be "Finchy" and Fun

Red-breasted Nuthatches and possibly Evening Grosbeaks will be highlights in North Carolina

Durham, NC, New York, NY, Ithaca, NY, and Port Rowan, ON (Feb. 4, 2019)—The 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place from Friday, February 15 through Monday, February 18. Volunteers from around the world are invited to count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at Anyone with internet access can participate, no matter what their skill level—it’s a great family activity, too.

“Counting birds is not only fun for people of all ages, it’s important for understanding how our bird populations are doing,” said Andrew Hutson, executive director of Audubon North Carolina and vice president of the National Audubon Society. “Just as canaries alerted coal miners to unsafe conditions, birds today tell us we need to protect more habitat and reduce carbon pollution, for the benefit of birds and people alike.”

In the United States and Canada, 2019 bird lists are more likely to include sightings of winter finches and grosbeaks that are moving farther south than usual in what's called an "irruption." This type of movement is often sparked by poor cone, seed, and berry crops in parts of Canada.

"This year is a very exciting one for backyard birders in the East, headlined by the largest Evening Grosbeak movement in at least two decades," says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. "From Atlantic Canada to North Carolina, these colorful feeder visitors have been making a splash."

eBird collects bird observations globally every day of the year and is the online platform used by the GBBC.

This is also an above-average year for Red-breasted Nuthatches in North Carolina.

"The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for all bird watchers to contribute to a global database of bird populations," says Dr. Gary Langham, vice president and chief scientist for the National Audubon Society. "Participants in the Great Backyard Bird Count help scientists understand how things like climate change are impacting bird populations so we can better inform our conservation efforts."

During the 2018 count, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 180,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,456 species–more than half the known bird species in the world. In North Carolina, bird watchers submitted 3,980 checklists reporting 213 species. North Carolina ranked ninth among states in the total number of checklists submitted. Checklists represented 97 of 100 counties, with Wake County submitting the most at 528 checklists.

As a kickoff to the global Great Backyard Bird Count, Audubon North Carolina, Wake Audubon Society, and the City of Raleigh will hold a free, open-to-the-public event at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh on Feb. 15. Following remarks by First Lady of North Carolina Kristin Cooper and National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold, volunteers from Wake Audubon Society will lead groups on a 15-minute count of birds at Dorothea Dix Park. Participants are encouraged to register for the event here:

To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit The Great Backyard Bird Count 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 founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

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Editors: See the winners of the 2018 GBBC Photo Contest. If you find a winner from your coverage area, please let us know if you would like a copy of the image for web or print (if high resolution is available).

Other media images available here. Most birds are likely to be counted in North Carolina this year, with the exception of the Snowy Owl (highly unlikely) and Evening Grosbeak (a few individuals statewide are likely).


About the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at and @audubonsociety.
Audubon North Carolina has offices in Durham, Boone, Corolla, and Wilmington. Learn more at and on Twitter at @audubonnc.​

About Bird Studies Canada
Bird Studies Canada advances the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. We are Canada's national body for bird research, conservation, Citizen Science, and education, and we are a non-governmental charitable organization.

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