February 17, 2022

We are expecting another cold snap which means the birds are going to struggle to find food in their natural environments.  That means I will fill my feeders and prepare for the inevitable onslaught that will (hopefully) occur later today and then again tomorrow.  This is an opportune time as tomorrow is the beginning of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.  It is easy to join in the count and the more who do, the better the estimate of birds around the world.  All you need to participate is to select and area to count (does not have to be your backyard), make a list of the different species you see/hear over (at least) a 15-minute period, and then register your list on the eBird website via the Merlin Bird ID app, the eBird Mobile app, or from your computer on the on the eBird website.  This will be my second year to participate.

When I looked online, I found the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is Friday, February 18 through Monday, February 21. This year, the GBBC is celebrating 25 years of coming together to enjoy birds. The GBBC was one of the first online projects to collect information on wild birds and was instrumental in the creation of eBird in 2002.  The 2022 GBBC will focus on connecting to birds, nature, and each other.  Migratory birds link the continents, and their movements highlight the interconnectedness of the world.  Unlike other global birding events, GBBC represents a chance to take a 4-day snapshot of bird populations around the world.  Everyone who submits an eBird checklist or saves a bird with Merlin Bird ID from Feb 18-21 will be part of the global effort.

The eBird website offered several tips to make the most detailed picture of wild birds possible.  This began with getting to know the local birds so you can easily identify them.  Since a lot of GBBC birding happens in backyards and often at feeders you need to use proper counting protocol to avoid multiple counts of the same bird (online tutorial available).  Submit complete checklists and be sure to document your list thoroughly.  Finally, add photos, especially when documenting rare birds.  Since this is a time to join virtually as part of the birder family, the site suggests you also share pictures of yourself, family, or friends celebrating the joy of birds during GBBC.  Sounds like a great idea!

THOUGHTS:  The GBBC is set up to allow you to filter the sightings and recent GBBC checklists by region, and you can submit data here as well.  Your My eBird stats will be the same here as they would be anywhere in eBird, with the addition of the Explore page.  The output on this page is tailored for the GBBC, and allows you to explore GBBC data by location, follow GBBC species maps, click on the points to see individual records, and check out the region-by-region contributions of individuals in terms of both number of checklists and number of species reported.  It also suggested “you share a link to these statistics on your blog, Facebook page, listserv, or your favorite social media of choice.”  Here it is:  Enjoy, and happy birding!  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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