Every year the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society run the Great Backyard Bird Count. This year’s is next weekend. Anyone can participate and it is no more difficult than looking out your window and counting the birds you see. You can do it all day long or for only a few minutes. All you have to do is spend a minimum of 15 minutes counting birds between February 15th and February 18th. Count the greatest number of any one or more species you see, write it down, then enter your results on the GBBC’s web page or mail the form and you are finished. It doesn’t matter where you count. If you want to get outside and head for a bird refuge, that’s fine. It is just as fine if you pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and sit next to your favorite window and count the birds you see from the warmth of your home.
The data you will be asked for is on this form. You simply write the highest number of birds for each species you see that were together at any one time. For example, if you watched a feeder for 15 minutes and saw three House Sparrows, then five, then two, you report five house sparrows. You can either mail the form or use the on-line form here.
Not sure of all the birds known to be in your area? You can download a list based on your zip code here.
This is real science. An annual snapshot of birds gives scientists information about migratory patterns, global climate change, local weather effects on birds, and populations of endangered birds. Last year 11 million birds of more than 600 species were counted.
If you have unfrozen water out for your birds — and you should have, they need it — maybe you’ll see what Charley Harper saw; an American Robin bathing.