Community Science

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Every February, count birds in your own backyard to help expand our understanding of birds.
Northern Flicker Photo: Alan Gubanich/Great Backyard Bird Count
Northern Flicker Photo: Alan Gubanich/Great Backyard Bird Count
Community Science

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Every February, count birds in your own backyard to help expand our understanding of birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.

Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, more than 160,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded. In 2015, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in more than 100 countries turned in more than 92,000 checklists online (counting 5,090 species of birds) - creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded!

Click here to sign up

Why Participate

Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic, and constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.  
 
Scientists use information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects (such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird), helping us to learn more about how birds are doing and how to protect them and the environment we share. The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like these:

  • How will the weather and climate change influence bird populations? 
  • How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years? 
  • What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas? 

Birdcount.org

In addition to registering and entering your results,  www.birdcount.org is a great resource for

  • Real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count.
  • Tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators.
  • Uploading entries to the GBBC photo contest with images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery.

All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.

 

"This count is so fun because anyone can take part -- we all learn and watch birds together -- whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher.  I like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up." 

-Gary Langham, Chief Scientist

Click here to sign up

How you can help, right now