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Count You In?

Yep, you!  This weekend, count birds for as little as 15 minutes in your own backyard, or head someplace wilder.  Wherever you count, you’ll be helping hundreds of thousands of community scientists compose a snapshot of bird populations worldwide.

Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16th to the 19th, let’s you count birds whenever you want for however long you want.  (With a minimum of 15 minutes — but honestly, who could count birds for less than that?)  You don’t even have to leave your house.  Many participants just watch their bird feeders from the comfort of their favorite chair, pen in hand.

For those of you who have the urge to get outside, this is a great opportunity to challenge yourself on some of those pesky bird identifications.  Downy or Hairy Woodpecker?  Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawk?  House or Purple Finch?

And, seriously, people, who isn’t stumped by sparrows?  We’ve got a whole bird walk this Saturday the 17th that’s devoted just to decoding sparrows!

Bone Up on Resources

Also, there are amazing resources available online.  You can download the free Audubon Bird Guide app or Merlin (a handy bird identification tool).  You can submit sightings directly from your smartphone or tablet using the free E-bird app.  If you don’t already have an E-bird account, it takes just a minute to sign up.

So what’s not to love?  For parents, grandparents, teachers, and mentors, the Great Backyard Bird Count lets you get kids outside without a set schedule or a long time commitment.  You can walk a familiar path or explore a whole new area.  And whether you spot two birds or twenty, the data you contribute helps protect birds worldwide.

Serious Conservation

Because ultimately, the Great Backyard Bird Count is not just about getting outside.  This data is critical for Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and other partners who study trends in bird populations.  Check out last year’s summary.  The sightings reveal how birds responded to 2017’s storms and warm winter weather — which feeds into our collective efforts to shelter birds from climate change.

This blend of fun and serious conservation is at the heart of community science.  So please, grab a kid, grab a friend, and join us this weekend for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

The Snow Goose was the top bird spotted in last year's Great Backyard Bird Count. Nearly five million of these beautiful creatures were recorded in a survey involving more than 200,000 community scientists. Photo: Duane Angles