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The Great Backyard Bird Count

Photo courtesy Greg Balogh, USFWS

The Great Backyard Bird Count goes global for 2013

Plan now to get involved with the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s a 4-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.

The 2013 GBBC will take place February 15 through 18. Beginning in 2013, GBBC checklists will be accepted from anywhere in the world!

Everyone is welcome, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.

Participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see Back ToYBO Home Pageduring their count period. They enter these numbers on the GBBC website.

Beginning in 2013, each participant must set up a free GBBC account to submit their checklists. You’ll only need to do this once to participate in all future GBBC events.

See how to participate at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html.

As the count progresses, anyone with internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or from anywhere in the world.

Why count birds?

Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are 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 the GBBC information, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to get the big picture about bird populations. The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like these:

• How will the weather influence bird populations?

• Where are winter finches and other irruptive species that appear in large numbers during some years but not others?

• How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?

• How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?

• What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?

For highlights of past results, visit the summaries section at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/science-stories.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.

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