The annual Great Backyard Bird count gives people around the world have an opportunity to help researchers at the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology gather data on birds. Participating is easy – simply count birds at your favorite outdoor location for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the event. That’s it, you don’t even have to put down your coffee.

Start by creating a GBBC account or logging in to a previously made account. Then, take at least 15 minutes to watch, identify and count birds from February 14-17. You can count for as long and in as many places as you’d like, just be sure to start a new checklist for each new day, location or session. Afterward, submit your data online or using the eBird Mobile App.

The GBBC website has plenty of resources for identifying and counting birds, here’s a few things you might find helpful.

Bird Count Tips

  • Keep written notes – Record the time, location and sightings of each session, as they will be asked for in the data collection process. Data for each session is submitted all at once after the session, not one bird at a time while you’re on location. Detailed notes will help you remember what you saw! Or,
  • Download a Birding App – Use the eBird Mobile App to track and upload your data from anywhere. This app does not help identify birds, however. For identification purposes, GBBC also suggests the Merlin Bird ID App with Photo ID and the Audubon Bird Guide.
  • Take pictures and videos – You might not be able to identify all the birds you see – and that’s ok! Take pictures of them, record the time and a description in you notes, and use this super cool bird ID tool to figure it out. (Click the red button that says “Get Instant ID Help.”) You can also add photos and soundbites of the birds you ID during data submission, which are added to the Macaulay Library’s collection. There’s also a photo contest for the GBBC.
  • Take a friend – It’s hard to see more birds when you’re frantically recording the last sighting. Bring a friend for a second set of eyes, another camera, and good company.
  • Take a practice run – While the GBBC is limited to Feb. 14-17, you can submit bird data any time on eBird. Take a practice run to figure out if hand written notes or the mobile app works best for you, and get to know some of the common species in your area. Also, sign into eBird, click “submit” and type on your area to see a map of birding hot spots in your area.

Feature photo by Bryan Hanson on Unsplash.

Have experience bird watching or participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count? Share your favorite birding tips and memories in the comments below!