Count Birds for Science: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up, and they need your help!

Count Birds for Science: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count
Courtesy Wild Birds Unlimited

The Great Backyard Bird Count is starting up this week, so it’s time to get ready to count!

If you don’t know what the Great Backyard Bird Count is, it’s basically when the world comes together for four days in February to count birds and report their findings. According to the GBBC, these observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations.

This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count will take places from February 16 – 19, 2024.

What’s awesome about this event is that not only are you helping scientists better understand birds, but you’re able to get outdoors and enjoy nature. And, you can help in as little as 15 minutes!

So…how does it work?

Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is easy…all you need is a place where there are birds!

  • Step 1: Decide where you will watch birds.
  • Step 2: Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 16–19, 2024.
  • Step 3: Identify all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings:

    If you are a beginning bird admirer and new to bird identification, try using the Merlin Bird ID app to tell them what birds you are seeing or hearing.

    If you have participated in the count before and want to record numbers of birds, try the eBird Mobile app or enter your bird list on the eBird website (desktop/laptop).

    Note: If you already contribute to Merlin or eBird, continue what you are doing! All entries over the 4 days count towards GBBC.
  • Step 4: Have fun!

Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville is making participating in the GBBC even easier. On Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, February 18, identification sheets and instructions on how to enter your data as a citizen scientist will be provided by staff. Individuals participating in the bird count will receive one guest pass per adult. This event is valid at the Gainesville location only.

Looking for more bird counting fun?

Zoo Atlanta will be hosting activities throughout the Zoo to learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count and how to participate, discover the joy of birding, and find out ways you can support bird conservation. Activities will be available from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on February 17 & 18.

Another way to learn more about the GBBC is to attend a Great Backyard Bird Count webinar. Beyond the Backyard: All About the Great Backyard Bird Count webinar is happening Tuesday, February 13, 2024 from 1-2pm EST. You can register for that webinar here.

During the webinar, you’ll hear from panelists and learn about the GBBC, how to involve your kids, ID tips, and more. Although attending a webinar can be helpful, it is not necessary to participate in the Bird Count.

Make sure to check the GBBC Bird Sightings Map for updated observations from around the world!

The Great Backyard Bird Count was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. It’s considered the first online participatory-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real time, according to their website. In 2013, it became a global project, and now each year the event has grown and expanded.

Check here for results from past years highlighting the data and trends from the Great Backyard Bird Counts.

Happy counting!

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Count Birds for Science: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count