The 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count starts February 13

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a popular citizen science event where people collect valuable information on the health of bird populations all over the world. The 2015 bird count runs from February 13 to February 16. It’s free and easy to participate. You may even be able to turn your bird count into a nice date for Valentine’s Day.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society started the Great Backyard Bird Count in 1998. Back then, most of the counts were done in the United States and Canada. In 2013, the event went global and many counts were done in countries such as India, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. During the 2014 count, nearly 4,300 bird species were identified, which is estimated to represent about 43% of all the bird species on Earth.

Locations of counts during the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count. Image Credit: GBBC.
Locations of counts during the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count. Image Credit: GBBC.

The 2015 count is expected to draw in participants from over 100 different countries.

To join the count, simply spend at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the event counting the types and numbers of birds that you see. Then, submit your data online. More detailed instructions can be found here. Please check out this link before heading out. The FAQs page has a ton of good information.

There is also a photography contest for this year’s event. The rules for the contest can be found at the above link. If you happen to get a nice photo, we would love it if you could share it with us at EarthSky. You can submit photos to EarthSky on Facebook, at Google+ or submit here.

Audubon’s Chief Scientist Gary Langham has advised North American participants to be on the lookout for pine siskins and redpolls this year. Such species may be further south than normal in 2015 because of the poor pine cone seed crops in northern Canada.

Common redpoll. Image Credit: Seabamirum via Flickr.
Common redpoll. Image Credit: Seabamirum via Flickr.

Dick Cannings of Bird Studies Canada also commented on the bird count in a press release. He said:

We especially want to encourage people to share their love of birds and bird watching with someone new this year. Take your sweetheart, a child, a neighbor, or a coworker with you while you count birds for the GBBC. Share your passion and you may fledge a brand new bird watcher!

This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count is being organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and many other international organizations.

Bottom line: Grab your binoculars—it’s time for the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count. The event runs from February 13th to 16th. It is free and easy to participate.

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