The Great Backyard Bird Count starts today! Grab your binoculars, friends or family members, a guidebook and head outside this weekend to tally the avian species you spot. (Bring your camera, too, and share your pics on our Flickr page!) And don’t worry if you’re afraid of commitment or already have plans for the holiday weekend: You can count birds for as little as 15 minutes.
The annual event, which runs February 18 – 21, isn’t only a hoot—it also provides valuable information on the state of bird populations.
“When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect changes in birds’ numbers and locations from year to year,” said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which coordinates the GBBC with Audubon and Bird Studies Canada.
For instance, past counts showed a drop in American crow numbers after outbreaks of West Nile virus in 2003, captured the paths of migrating sandhill cranes, and recorded the dramatic spread Eurasian collared-doves.
Visit birdsource.org for instructions, identification tips, regional bird checklists, and more.
Take your camera along and then share your photos on the Audubon magazine group Flickr page.