Great Backyard Bird Count Connects People With Nature

Published: Jan 24, 2008
New York, NY - 
Both novice and accomplished bird watchers are invited to become Citizen Scientists during the 11th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), led by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During "Presidents' Day" weekend, February 15–18, participants will count the birds they see at home, in schoolyards, at local parks or wildlife refuges, and enter their results at www.birdcount.org.

"Each tally helps us learn more about how our North American birds are doing and what that says about the health and the future of our environment," said Tom Bancroft, Chief Science Officer for Audubon. "These volunteers are counting not only for fun but for the future."

Great Backyard Bird Count is not only great for birds, it's fun and easy for the whole family. Observers simply count the highest number of each species they see during at least 15 minutes on one or more of the count days, and submit each count online. Complete instructions, checklists and helpful hints for identifying birds can be found at www.birdcount.org. During the count, the website will provide a real-time picture of results, enabling participants to compare their tallies with others as checklists pour in from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

"Literally, there has never been a more detailed snapshot of a continental bird-distribution profile in history," said John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "Imagine scientists 250 years from now being able to compare these data with their own!"
This year, fledgling filmmakers will also be able to upload video of their backyard birds on YouTube and tag it "Great Backyard Bird Count. The best clips will be posted on the birdcount.org website Still photographers can get in on the fun by submitting their digital images for the online photo gallery and contest.

"People who take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count see the results of their efforts in the news and in bird conservation work taking place across the country," said Audubon Education VP, Judy Braus. "Whether the counts occur at home, at schools or nature centers, they're more than engaging and educational science activities for young people and adults, they're a way to contribute to the conservation of birds and habitat nationwide."

In 2007, Great Backyard Bird Count participants made history, breaking records for both the number of birds reported, and the number of checklists. Participants sent in 81,203 checklists tallying 11,082,387 birds of 613 species. With the growth of bird watching described by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Survey, Audubon and Cornell are hoping that this year's event may attract even more birders. Last year, over 70 million Americans participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity, including observing, feeding, or photographing birds.

Lt. Daniel Britt, back home in Zimmerman after serving in Iraq for 16 months, is looking forward to the GBBC. "I plan to do the count with my three boys in our backyard this year. My oldest son Daniel and I also hope to ski into the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge to count birds there."

What other volunteers said:

"I was thrilled to be part of something that would help shed light on the environment and the impact that humans have on this earth. It was a chance to use my hobby for a greater good."
—Lauren, North Carolina

"My 4 1/2 year old grandson is very excited about it; he can already identify Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, and woodpeckers in general. We're working on identifying Red-bellied and Downy woodpeckers. It's very rewarding for me, and it makes him very proud of himself."
—John, Maryland

"I am eight years old and have loved birds since I was a baby. Birds are very beautiful and the backyard bird count is a lot of fun."
–Breanna, Ohio

"I had great fun participating. It is a quiet and peaceful project. In today's busy and exhausting lifestyle, everyone should sit still and observe birds."
—Helen, Massachusetts

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited.

Media: See www.birdso urce.org/gbbc/press
for photos, last year's top-10 list, and results from your area.
Contact dwillis@audubon.org if you would like to interview a local participant or bird expert.

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The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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Nancy Severance
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