Western Rivers Bird Count

Help us understand how birds use riparian corridors in the American Southwest

Yellow Warbler. Photo: Sheen Watkins/Audubon Photography Awards

Western Rivers Bird Count

Help us understand how birds use riparian corridors in the American Southwest

To better understand birds and the places they need, the National Audubon Society calls upon community scientists to conduct bird counts beginning May 5 (Global Big Day) and through the end of June at priority locations along rivers in the West, and particularly within the Colorado River Basin.

Water sustains millions of people as well as some of America’s richest diversity of birdlife. The priority locations are on public lands where Audubon’s scientists predict birders to find: Yellow Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Bell’s Vireos. The priorities species were identified as a result of the National Audubon Society’s report, Water and Birds in the Arid West.

Trees and shrubs along rivers are critical components of healthy watersheds and are a main source of biodiversity in the arid West. Even though these “riparian areas” account for less than five percent of the landscape in the Southwest, they provide habitat for more than half of the region’s breeding bird species, including 400 species that breed along the lower Colorado River. By collecting bird counts along rivers in the region, participants will provide important data to Audubon and help inform baseline estimates of bird abundance.

The Western Rivers Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature. Participation is free. A map (linked and below) and step-by-step guide show how to find priority locations and what the protocol is for counting birds. Participants can count any time during May and June. Each bird count will last from 5 to 60 minutes and cover 1 kilometer or less. Birders can than submit their checklists to eBird.org or on the eBird app.

"The Western Rivers Bird Count is a great way to introduce people to participation in community science and to focus existing Big Day counts to include rivers," said Karyn Stockdale, Audubon’s Western Water Senior Director. “With years of drought in the intermountain West, it’s important for us to better understand how birds are responding to these realities in the early summer.”

Participating in the Western Rivers Bird Count is a great way to join in the Year of the Bird — which is a 12-month celebration of birds and the threats they face, organized by National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and BirdLife International.