The Great Backyard Bird Count will take place on February 14–17, 2014. Now in its 17th year, the citizen science project is a great opportunity to get outside and help scientists track the health of bird populations. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint effort of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada.
This year is the second time that people from around the world are being invited to join in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s free and easy to participate – simply plan on spending at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the project counting birds. Then, upload your data to www.birdcount.org. This website has many great tips for counting birds, so be sure to look it over prior to heading out. There is even a photography contest if you would like to share your pictures from the bird count.
Gary Langham, chief scientist at the Audubon Society, commented on the Great Backyard Bird Count in a press release. He said:
People who care about birds can change the world. Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.
During the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count, more than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded. That’s nearly one-third of all the bird species thought to exist on Earth! The sightings were collected from all 7 continents including 111 countries and independent territories.
John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, commented on the results of the 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count in the press release. He said:
This is a milestone for citizen science in so many respects—number of species, diversity of countries involved, total participants, and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the start of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how all our planet’s birds are faring as the years go by.
George Finney, President of Bird Studies Canada, noted that:
Canadian participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count has increased tremendously in recent years, and it’s wonderful to see this program growing globally. The count is introducing unprecedented numbers of people to the exciting field of bird watching.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a popular event in North America. Data collected from this region have been used to track the recovery of bird populations following the introduction of the West Nile virus, monitor invasive species such as the Eurasian Collard-Dove, identify hot spots of biodiversity, and investigate how weather and climate change are impacting bird populations.
Bottom line: The Great Backyard Bird Count will take place on February 14–17, 2014. It’s free and easy to participate, and the data collected will help scientists to track the health of bird populations.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.