Great Backyard Bird Count Should Be “Finchy” and Fun

Winter Finch “Irruption” will be a Highlight for Many

Snowy Owl by by GBBC participant Diane McAllister
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place 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.

The 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place Friday, February 15 through Monday, February 18
The 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place Friday, February 15 through Monday, February 18

Great Backyard Bird Count Expects Finch Irruption

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.”

Pine Grosbeak male by Candace Trost, GBBC participant, Manitoba, Canada

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.”

Although seed crops were better in western Canada, eBird maps still show a significant number of Evening Grosbeaks are now being reported in the West all the way down to the border with Mexico.

Common Redpoll by GBBC participant Kathleen Payne, Minnesota
Common Redpoll by GBBC participant Kathleen Payne, Minnesota

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

This also an above-average year for Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Citizen Contribute to Global Bird Database

“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.

Evening Grosbeak by GBBC participant Ted Schroeder, Oregon

“With the finch irruption this year, we’re hoping for record bird numbers and another record-breaking year for Canadian participation,” says Jon McCracken, Bird Studies Canada’s National Program Director.

“In search of a bit of relief from our cold winters, many Canadians become ‘snow birds’ at this time of year, and spend a bit of time birding somewhere warm. While I always strongly encourage counts in our own snowy Canadian backyards, don’t forget that you can participate anywhere in the world. Last year, I did my count in Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp, and had a fantastic day.”

READ: Be a Responsible Backyard Birder

Get Out and See Birds

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.

Intobirds is taking part in the winter Great Backyard Bird Count and sharing our photos with our fans.

Be sure to share photos from your bird count with us on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages for a chance to be profiled on the SNAPS page of our website.

Be sure to use the hashtag #intobirds.

Now get out and see birds!


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