Great Backyard Bird Count starts worldwide Feb. 12th

American Goldfinch
Almost any bird feeder may attract American Goldfinches, including hopper, platform or hanging feeders and these birds don’t mind feeders that sway in the wind. They’re most attracted to sunflower seed and nyjer. Their po-ta-to-chip flight call draws attention to them in open country. Photo by Deborah Bifulco

Lots of people turned to birdwatching during the past year, seeking enjoyment and relaxation. Chickadees, cardinals, finches and other birds are doing their part to lift human spirits this winter.

The 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a great opportunity for all budding birdwatchers and bird-count veterans to use their skills. People from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists online.

The GBBC takes place February 12 through 15. Visit to learn more about how to take part in this year’s count.

“Why not try something new?” says Steven Price, President of Birds Canada which has its headquarters in Port Rowan.

“If you’re an experienced birder, set yourself a challenge to see how many new birders you can get interested in counting on their own patch. If you are just beginning to learn about the birds in your yard, see if you can identify three new birds (or five new birds or 10 new birds).”

“The GBBC is a simple, welcoming project that both new and veteran birdwatchers enjoy,” says David Bonter, with the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Birds are everywhere and can be counted in backyards, neighborhoods, parks, wild areas, and cities. Scientists need the eyes of the world to collect information about where the birds are.”

During the 2020 GBBC, birdwatchers set new records for the event, turning in nearly 250,000 lists of birds seen, from more than 100 countries, identifying nearly 7,000 of the world’s estimated 10,000 bird species. Data gathered by the GBBC and other survey projects highlight changes in the numbers and distribution of wild birds over time.

Birds can often make people happy.

“By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, community scientists contribute data that we use to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow,” said Chad Wilsey, chief scientist at National Audubon Society. “In return, studies tell us that pausing to observe birds, their sounds and movements, improve human health. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a win-win for birds and people.”

This year there is a new way to send in an observation—through the Cornell Lab’s free Merlin Bird ID app. If you use the app during the GBBC and save a bird you’ve identified, it is also counted for the GBBC. As in the past, using the eBird platform on your mobile app and computer are still great ways to enter your data.

All participants are urged to watch birds safely in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. That means following the local health and safety protocols, not gathering in groups, and wearing masks if you’re unable to remain at least six feet apart from others.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Birds Canada.

Birds Canada advances the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats.

Photo by Deborah Bifulco



Originally published February 3, 2021

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