Cloudy
68.5 ° F
Full Weather
Sponsored By:

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

Sponsored by:

A garden isn’t a garden without birds. From the orange, black-and-white towhees scratching through fallen leaves for bugs, to hummers sipping on a red-flowering sage, we are blessed in the Sierra foothills by their visitations.

Speaking of our feathered friends, there’s an upcoming opportunity to indulge your love of birds and contribute to science by participating in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16-19. Sponsored by Audubon and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the count allows people from around the world to submit checklists of bird species they see in their yards or wherever they are during the event. According to Audubon, “Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share.”

Anyone can participate in the count and it’s easy to do. They just ask that you watch birds, around your home or elsewhere, for a minimum of 15 minutes over the four-day count, then submit your checklist. Audubon offers several different ways to do that, from downloadable checklists containing the names of bird species, to an app that helps you identify birds first, then submit your count. All completed checklists are entered into Cornell’s database.

And there’s more fun to be had: On the GBBC’s website you can see what others are reporting around the world via real-time maps during and after the formal count.  You can also add to their image library by sending photos you’ve taken of birds during the event.

Last year, the GBBC global bird count totaled 7,730 species, with 334,700 checklists submitted. Columbia, Ecuador, and India reported the most bird species (1,334, 1,124 and 1,024, respectively), while the U.S. ranked tenth at 674 species. The U.S. submitted—by far—the most checklists (197,883) with India coming in second at 56,389.

Any time of year, the Audubon site offers endless information about birds, like how to tell the difference between a raven and a crow; how to find the best native plants for birds in your area; and of course, how you can help save species that are endangered.

Another wonderful resource for birders is eBird.org, managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  According to eBird, which says it is “the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project,” their goal is to be a valuable data source.  “From being able to manage lists, photos and audio recordings, to seeing real-time maps of species distribution, to alerts that let you know when species have been seen, we strive to provide the most current and useful information to the birding community.”

Happy birding during the Great Backyard Bird Count, and if you’d like to join the local community of birders for year-round activities, contact the Central Sierra Audubon Society!

Last year, an estimated 300,000+ participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded. Other 2021 results included:  6,436 species of birds identified; 151,300+ bird photos added to the library; and 190 countries represented in the count.

Both the national and local-chapter Audubon websites, https://www.audubon.org and https://sierrafoothillsaudubon.org, are rich with information and resources for bird lovers.  With the Great Backyard Bird Count’s Explore Regions tool, you can get a sneak peak at the kinds of birds you can expect to see in our area during the count.  On the bird.org site, participants can see what others are reporting via real-time maps during and after the formal count.  And any time of year, the Audubon site offers endless information about birds, like:  how to tell the difference between a raven and a crow; how to find the best native plants for birds in your area; and of course, how you can help save species that are endangered.

Another wonderful resource for birders is eBird.org, managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  According to eBird, which says it is “the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project,” their goal is to be a valuable data source.  “From being able to manage lists, photos and audio recordings, to seeing real-time maps of species distribution, to alerts that let you know when species have been seen, we strive to provide the most current and useful information to the birding community.”

So, participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count and become a Cornell Labs and Audubon “Community Citizen Scientist.”  Happy birding!

 

Rachel Oppedahl is a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County whose favorite bird at the moment is the Northern Flicker that makes rare appearances at her bird feeders.

Feedback