Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count

Eastern Towhee, male

It's almost time, so I wanted to remind folks so they can plan to be at home with a pair of binoculars! The

Great Backyard Bird Count

is an excellent example of Citizen Science, where regular non-scientists help in data collection to create a better picture of bird distribution at the same time each year. Compiling data is more effective when you have data to compile!

"Participants count birds anywhere for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period. They tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report their counts, they fill out an online checklist at the Great Backyard Bird Count website."

It doesn't take long to participate and counting birds is a great activity to share with your kids. A good bird guide is helpful (I'm a bit partial to


), as is a good pair of


. If you are new to birding, you may want an

abbreviated guide

that is specific to your area of the country. Give it a good look-through before you start--you'll be amazed how well your mind can capture what you see... you'll know kind of "where to look" in the book to get your proper identification. Be sure to notice the differences between males and females. Like this dapper towhee pictured. His female counterpart has brown where he is black.

The Bird Count begins on February 18th and runs until the 21st. You can count birds each day, just one day, or a couple different times on one day. It is important to know when you start and finish, so make sure you make a note of that!

Last year was a

big year

for the Count. Over 97,000 checklists were submitted! It is one of the easiest ways available to actually contribute to scientific analysis of bird distribution. So set aside even half an hour in that time and then key it in--and be part of the scientific community!

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