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Great Backyard Bird Count

Seneca Rocks Audubon Society - D.Staab Photo

Every February, bird lovers around the world spend time in their favorite places watching and counting birds. They count and report for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a citizen science project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada.

The GBBC started in 1998 and has grown tremendously.

This year the counting dates are February 17-20.

The goal of the GBBC is to help scientists understand global bird populations before spring migration. That data is extremely important and has led to a better understanding of migration patterns, year-to-year changes in bird populations, and long-term trends.

Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, a local chapter of the National Audubon Society, encourages the public to participate. Anyone can take part, from beginning bird watchers to expert birders. Participation is easy, fun to do alone or with others, and can be done anywhere birds are found.

Participants are asked to count birds for at least 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) during the 4-day GBBC. Counting can be done looking through a window or anywhere outdoors– backyard, park, town, or countryside.

Identifying birds and reporting them is made easier with a smartphone using Cornell Lab’s free birding apps. To use the apps, first create a free Cornell Lab account. Beginner and intermediate bird watchers can then download the Merlin Bird ID app. Merlin Bird ID helps to identify birds by sight, photograph, or sound. More advanced birders, who don’t need such help, might prefer the eBird Mobile app. Download either or both of the apps in advance of the GBBC birdwatching to get familiar with them.

Both of these apps also allow a person to record and submit their bird sightings for the Great Backyard Bird Count and any other outings. If it’s easier to make a list on paper, the bird list can be reported later using the eBird.org website on a computer.

Each person’s bird watching and recording, no matter how long, adds valuable information to a powerful citizen science project, the Great Backyard Bird Count.

For more information about how to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, go to their website birdcount.org.

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