The official Great Backyard Bird Count results are in (the data-entry period ended Monday), and citizen scientists across the country counted 618 species and 17,349,976 individual birds—6 million more than last year! Snow geese, with 3 million-plus counted, were the most abundant 2012 species. Tree swallows, red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, and common grackles rounded out the top five.
This year, as it does every year, the GBBC offers a snapshot of species during wintertime, just before their spring migration begins. “Bird populations are constantly changing. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to keep track of the complicated patterns of movement of so many species over an entire continent,” states the GBBC website. All of this information goes into the Avian Knowledge Network, which now holds more than 112 million bird-observation records.
Here’s a look at the top 10 of the 2012 GBBC (by individuals counted):
1. Snow goose, 3,259,469
2. Tree swallow, 3,060,169
3. Red-winged blackbird, 1,719,373
4. Canada goose, 932,013
5. Common grackle, 578,625
6. European starling, 513,382
7. American robin, 345,211
8. American goldfinch, 320,997
9. Mallard, 311,938
10. American coot, 308,310
Last year, starlings, robins, and common grackles filled out the top three.
Counters in New York submitted the most lists this year (same as last year), followed by California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas.
During the next few weeks, as scientists from Audubon and Cornell sort through and analyze the data, you can scroll through the photo gallery of hundreds of images submitted by GBBC participants. One winner from each of six categories—overall, birds in their habitat, behavior, group shot (2 or more birds), composition, and people enjoying birds—will take home prizes.
Check the GBBC summaries page soon for a complete analysis of this year’s results. Even though the count’s over for this year, keep getting outside and spotting those birds. You can submit data on eBird anytime!