Are you looking for an easy, family-friendly community science project? The Great Backyard Bird Count is for you!
The GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. It takes place on one weekend every February.
Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes, or you can go wild and spend up to 4 days. You can do it at home or at your favorite birding location anywhere. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.
The GBBC is jointly sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon and is held every winter. You can learn more about the GBBC, learn about common winter birds, find out how kids can participate, view bird photos from GBBC participants, and much more at the Great Backyard Bird Count Web site.
Here are Sharon Tinianow’s Top 10 Reasons to Join the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Reason #10 – It was free! Enough said.
We had to go outside. After months of cold, gray weather, GBBC gave us a push to get outside. It was a chilly, but sunny day when we went out and made me realize how much I need time outdoors every day.
We saw birds! I am one of those people who never tires of watching the antics of Carolina Chickadees, so the fact that the birds we saw were mostly the species commonly seen at backyard feeders was no disappointment to me.
We learned things. What we learned was that bird behavior is different in February than it is in spring or summer. For example, in the morning the birds were not around the feeders as you might expect; they were sitting high up in trees taking in the sun’s rays.
I found birders! Getting my colleagues at work to participate was easy. I used Yammer – an internal instant messaging tool – to ask people to join me. To my delight, several staff members jumped on board and we arranged where to meet and when.
We had fun together. It is always great to find out that people you work with share your interests. I imagine there will be more birding related gatherings in our future.
We connected with Columbus Audubon and the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. We’re already talking about how we could partner in the future to make the GBBC a public education event.
It was easy! I registered online, printed off forms to take on our birding forays, then entered data online and submitted it.
I learned more about my home place. My workplace is uniquely located downtown, which provides a range of habitats from dense shrubs and conifers to the open water of the Scioto River. We watched a pair of House Finches in a stand of White pines, then turned toward the river and counted nearly 100 Ring-billed Gulls facing into the wind. Cool.
And Reason #1
More than anything else, we knew we were doing community science. We contributed to a massive data gathering effort that informs conservation planning. It’s like that old saying: No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. That’s the GBBC in a nutshell.