February 28, 2022

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is over and the totals have been tallied.  There were over 320,000 checklists submitted representing the 192 countries who participated in this year’s count.  The count identified 7,095 species worldwide.  The country of Columbia had the most species identified with 1,239 species in the 1,847 checklists submitted.  Ecuador ranked second in number of species with 1,039 on 584 checklists.  India was third with 1,020 species and ranked second for checklists with 39,204.  While the US ranked eighth overall for the number of species with 689 it was first in number of checklists with 195,167.  That was followed by India and Canada was third with 28,601 checklists identifying 256 species. 

When I looked online at the Audubon website it stated each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Birds Canada learn more about how birds are doing, as well as how to protect both the birds and the environment we share.  Over the last 25 years the totals from submissions have created the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.  During this four-day event birdwatchers all around the world are invited to count and report details of birds in the area in which they live.  Data is submitted online and compiled for use in scientific research.  Data collected during the event is subjected to verification by experts to overcome any potential shortcomings from the (mostly) amateur participants.  The totals resulting from the event raises awareness about changes in population and habitats of common birds.

While awards are not given, bragging rights are still possible.  The top birder honor world-wide went to Guillermo Saborío Vega (Columbia) with an incredible 299 species observed on 24 checklists over the four-day period.  Top birder in the lower 48 states of the US was Brandi Fox with 196 species, narrowly edging out James Leone with 195.  Arkansas had 138 species observed on 1,273 checklists representing 69 of the 75 counties.  Daniel Mason took top birder honors with 82 species reported.  I was close (not), with 12 species observed on my three checklists.  I was still glad I was able to participate.

THOUGHTS:  I admit I was overwhelmed when I looked at the statistics for number of species and number of checklists submitted across the world, across the lower 48 states of the US, and even across my own state of Arkansas.  However, as I went deeper into the totals it changed my perception.  My county had 50 different species identified on 13 checklists.  I accounted for 12 of the species and 3 of the 13 checklists.  Like so many things, perspective makes a difference.  Statistics are great to provide snapshots of averages, means, and trends, but it is easy to get lost in the big picture.  Real change in the ethical treatment of others happens one person at a time.  Do not swayed into thinking you cannot make a difference.  Keep working one day, and one person, at a time to build unity.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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