Thursday, February 5, 2015

Coming Soon: The Great Backyard Bird Count!

Coming soon to a backyard near you: the Great Backyard Bird Count is almost here!  Every year the kids and I participate, and it can be quite a lot of fun!

So what is the Great Backyard Bird Count?
From February 13 - 16 this year, everyone is being asked to count how many and what type of birds they see for at least 15 minutes, then log their results at the GBBC website.  Last year over 140,000 people in 135 different countries participated and counted over 17 million birds!
That is a powerful lot of data, people.

2014 Statistics from GBBC
The Great Backyard Bird Count was started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.  Some of you might know about the Cornell Lab from their online bird guide, All About Birds.  When trying to identify a bird, that is usually where I end up!  My favorite feature of their online guide is the 'Similar Species' sections.  As long as I know what bird it sort of looks like, I can go to their bird guide and browse through birds that look similar, and then usually I'll find it.


Hmm, still having trouble identifying this bird...
The data from the Great Backyard Bird Count helps researchers track bird populations.  Due to weather, habitat changes, or other factors, different species will increase or decrease.  Bird populations will move, sometimes migrating to new locations.  Last year's data showed the effects of the cold 'polar vortex' in the US, a finch 'superflight' to new locations due to food shortages in Canada, certain Mexican species moving north due to climate change, more Snowy Owl invasions into the US from Canada, and a surprise Yellow-Rumped Warbler that somehow made it all the way to England from North America!

female Yellow-Rumped Warbler
In honor of the Great Backyard Bird Count, the next few blog posts will be focused on birds and birding.  Ever since Mr. Red House and the kids gave me my first bird feeder several years ago, I've gotten really into bird watching.  It's so much fun, and I especially appreciate it in winter, as it connects me to the outside when the cold weather keeps me inside.


So mark your calendars for February 13 - 16!  I wonder what the data will show this year?


Are you planning on participating?

26 comments:

  1. It's great fun to do. We did one here in England a couple of weeks ago. Although I'm sure the birds know about it too... they all seem to go and hide!

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    1. Oh no! I usually wait until I see a lot of birds at the feeder and then start my 15 minutes :) Thankfully our required time is quite short! I wonder if the different societies that do bird counts pool all their data?

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  2. I participated in this for the first time last year. Hope to do my observations this month for 2015.

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    1. Yay! The more people, the better the data!

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  3. next year ... I'm still adjusting to new birds here.

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    1. Are there many species that are different from where you lived last? That would be so fun, seeing new and different looking birds! I remember visiting India and seeing birds that were so differently colored than ours - lots of green birds, which is a color we don't normally see in birds here in the US.

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  4. Yes... Thank you for blogging about it... Michelle

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    1. It's really a fun thing to do, and raising awareness will hopefully get more people involved and more data collected for research!

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  5. I've been participating the last few years and plan to again this year. I think that is how I found the Cornell site, which is such a great resource. I'm secretly hoping for a little more snow before next weekend, so there will be more birds at the feeders. That little yellow-rumpled warbler must be tired!

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    1. True, you always know when a snow storm is coming, as they flock to the feeders! That poor little warbler - that's a long way to fly!

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  6. Absolutely I am participating but the birds are few this year....

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    1. That's too bad. I know last year was such a hard winter for them. I hope that hasn't affected the populations too drastically.

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  7. I have loads of birds but have never participated in the bird count. I really need to learn to better identify them. Having a sheet with color pictures of the common backyard birds for my area that I could check off would be great.

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    1. Well my next post will be on common backyard birds, so stay tuned! It took me awhile to figure out what birds were what. I ended up having to take pictures of them and then compare the pictures to ones online :) I saw a brochure at a local plant nursery that was something like that - a list of pictures of all the common birds. I wish I'd had that back when I was learning the bird types!

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  8. I always feel like everyday is a birding day and often there are too many birds to count at feeders. I tried last last year and sent in the tally, but being in birding clubs, they count every month and send results monthly. It is a fun process, but often overwhelming with the numbers we encounter.

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    1. Seeing your pictures, you have such huge flocks of birds there. I only have a couple feeders, so I don't think they would support so many!

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  9. This sounds like a good project for my homeschooled kids to do this month. But I'm afraid that the same dog that allows me to garden nearly deer-free also renders our property nearly bird-free. Thanks for letting us know about this! -Beth

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    1. Ah, that would make it a challenge to entice birds to the yard! Kids do love it, though. My kids keep running back and forth between windows trying to make sure they don't miss any birds!

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  10. I enjoy watching birds in my garden. One day, when I was laid up after a tonsillectomy, I sat on my couch and made a list of all the birds I saw out the window. I still have the list, and there are 18 species on that list, visible from my couch!

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    1. That's a pretty impressive number!

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  11. We will be participating again this year. It is a fun thing to do with children and my boys have gotten really good at iding birds. I just hope the weather is good. We usually see more birds at feeders with colder temps but who knows. Yesterday was almost 70 here!

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    1. Wow, nice! I just wish it was above freezing here! (My house is just one giant covered snow-pop at this point up here in Boston.)

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  12. I'm looking forward to taking part in this also.. We have so many eagles, ravens, doves, and quail. Along with our resident red headed woodpeckers, and flickers...that I am hoping to be able to add our count to the total.

    Sounds like a lot of fun.

    Jen

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    1. Wow, eagles?! Quail? You have some awesome birds there!

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