Counting is Caring in the Great Backyard Bird Count of 2020

Join People Around the World Who are Helping Birds by Counting Them for Science

Reading Time: 3 minutes

2020 is turning out to be a year where everything counts, and that includes birds in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

Show wild birds some love by taking part in the 23rd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) beginning on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, and continuing through Monday, February 17.

Volunteers 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 sightings into their checklists at birdcount.org.

Great Backyard Bird Count 2020
Great Backyard Bird Count 2020

If You Love Birds

If you’ve never taken part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, here’s a great reason if you love birds.

We’re facing a bird emergency.

A recent study in the journal Science last fall revealed a decline of more than one in four birds in the United States and Canada since 1970.

That’s 3 billion birds gone!

In addition to these steep declines, Audubon scientists project a grim future for birds in Survival By Degreesshowing nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species disappearing due to climate change.

Tufted Titmouse by Jenny Burdette, of Georgia was the overall winner of 2019 GBBC Photo Contest
Tufted Titmouse by Jenny Burdette, of Georgia was the overall winner of 2019 GBBC Photo Contest

Great Backyard Bird Count Helps Birds

Birds from around the world are facing similar challenges and declines, so counting birds for science is one simple action we can all take to help protect birds and the places where they live.

“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program which collects the GBBC data.

“Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”

With more than 10,000 species in the world, it means all hands on deck to monitor birds found in backyards and neighborhoods as well as in suburban parks, wilderness areas, and cities.

White Ibis by Neva Scheve of North Carolina was the second place winner of 2019 GBBC Photo Contest
White Ibis by Neva Scheve of North Carolina was the second place winner of 2019 GBBC Photo Contest

Helping Scientists Understand Our Environment

“Birds are important because they’re excellent indicators of the health of our ecosystems. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the easiest and best ways to help scientists understand how our changing climate may be affecting the world’s birdlife,” says Chad Wilsey, interim Chief Scientist for National Audubon Society.

“All over the world, people are paying more attention to our environment and how it’s changing. There’s a lot of bad news out there, but in just 15 minutes, you can be part of a global solution to the crisis birds, and people are facing.”

READ: WHAT BIRD SPECIES WOULD YOU BE?

Enjoy Counting Birds and Helping Science

During the 2019 GBBC, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 210,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,850 species–more than half the known bird species in the world.

Bird count data become more valuable over time because it highlights trends over many years, apart from the normal short-term fluctuations in bird populations.

“At times, we can feel like there’s little we can do on environmental issues,” says Steven Price, president of Birds Canada.

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 Photo Contest winner, First Place – Composition, Carolina Wren by Jenny Burdette of Georgia
The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 Photo Contest winner, First Place – Composition, Carolina Wren by Jenny Burdette of Georgia

“The Great Backyard Bird Count gives all bird enthusiasts a chance to help, as well as a great opportunity to include family and friends of all skill levels in a common conservation effort. Go out, have fun, and take heart that you are helping birds and nature!”

How to Take Part in the Great Backyard Bird Count

Taking part is easy.

Go to birdcount.org and login into your eBird account, or create a free account.

In your eBird account, you can explore birds and hotspots near you wherever you go.

Or share your sightings in the latest birding community in the world.

When you’re on the eBird website or app, you can track your lists and eBird tallies your sightings, photos, and sounds in one place.

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 Photo Contest winner, Third Place – People, Charles Schwartze of Colorado
The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 Photo Contest winner, Third Place – People, Charles Schwartze of Colorado

Keeping a Bird Journal

A birdwatching journal is a great place to keep a list of birds you see throughout the year
A birdwatching journal is a great place to keep a list of birds you see throughout the year

If you want to keep a hard copy of your bird sightings for future reference be sure to check out our line of baltic birch wood-engraved 5.5” x 8” bird journals ($23) inspired by vintage bird designs in our Etsy store.

Our bird journals feature a Barn Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Cardinal, and a Snowy Owl.

We donate a portion of every purchase to a bird habitat and conservation organization.

So grab your binoculars, and get out and make your sightings count for science and enjoy the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

Let’s give some props to the fabulous organizations that make this important event happen.

The Cornell Lab of OrnithologyNational Audubon SocietyBirds Canada, and Wild Birds Unlimited.

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