The twenty-fifth annual Great Backyard Bird Count is fast approaching. For an entire long weekend, birdwatchers worldwide are encouraged to contribute to the scientific understanding of birds by recording and sharing their observations. Read on to learn about this birding tradition, and how you can participate.
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What is the Great Backyard Bird Count?
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a project initiated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 1998. In 2022, this project is still going strong and is scheduled to take place from the 18th of February through the 21st.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an example of “citizen science.” This practice allows ordinary people to contribute to scientific knowledge or projects via volunteering or simply submitting information observed during normal activities.
In the case of the bird count, open participation is encouraged for everyone who is interested. Participants are asked to record and submit their sightings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology via either the eBird website or the Merlin bird identification app. Both of these sites allow birders to participate in citizen science year-round by contributing birdwatching data and sightings.
How to Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count of 2022
Participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count is very simple. To begin with, participants must register with either Merlin or eBird. To do this, one must create a username and password and supply a name and email address. From then on, the process is as easy as watching and listening for birds from your own backyard!
Bird count participants can choose to submit data from anywhere in the world. For data to be included in the count, the only requirement is to be sure that you watch and listen in the same place for at least fifteen minutes. During that time, note which birds you have seen and how many of them you were able to count.
Participants can choose to record data for any of the four days during which the count takes place. Additionally, it is acceptable to count for as long as one wants to and to conduct as many counts as one wants. Birders can even conduct counts at multiple different locations and times of day. It is essential, though, that information such as location, time of day, and the duration of the count are all recorded.
At the end of the count, participants must submit all data to either Merlin or eBird. Data collection will be open until the first of March, however the data itself must be from February 18th-21st.
Why the Bird Count is an Important Event
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a beloved community-building event for bird enthusiasts of all experience levels. Amongst birding hobbyists, the count is an exciting time wherein birders get to contribute to the scientific understanding of bird populations, all while doing a fun activity in the location of their choosing.
The count is not all fun and games. The scientific impact of the Great Backyard Bird Count is measurable and significant. In 2014, it was the bird count that revealed an unusual irruption pattern amongst snowy owls. The bird count also takes place before a major migration season. Thus, the massive influx of volunteer data collected during the count helps scientists to create a snapshot of global bird populations. This data is extremely important for research and conservation efforts.
Register with eBird by the eighteenth to participate in the full four days of the count. Happy counting!
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