This weekend, all the “birding groups” from Cornell Ornithological through Audubon are doing a four day birding experience titled “The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).” It’s done in February because it precedes the first (earliest) bird migrations and give all the birding groups a good idea of how many local birds we have.
This is an international event. It’s free. You don’t need a camera or binoculars, just a pair of eyes. The amount of time it takes is entirely up to you. Fifteen minutes over the four day period is minimum. You do it entirely watching your own bird feeder, take a walk, sit on a bench in a park, along a river or shoreline, lake or stream. You keep track of what you see — including nothing. If you don’t see any birds, you report that too because it’s information and becomes part of the equation.
The GBBC starts today. It lasts for four days, from today, Friday, February 12 through Monday, February 15th. You can spend as much or as little time as you like counting. You can count for hours or for just 15-minutes. You can count several times each day or once. Whatever works for you is fine.
I tuned into the webinar that preceded it and got a couple of questions answered. If you see one Chickadee and you never see two Chickadees together, no matter how many times that bird comes back to get another seed, it is counted as one Chickadee. If, however, you see groups of Chickadees — two, three or four of them on a feeder or wherever, then you do your best to count them. I’ve seen as many as 26 Juncos on my deck at one time and more than a dozen Blue Jays at a time.
I often see large groups of Goldfinch and House Finch as well as multiple Tufted Titmouses and Nuthatches. We have just one Carolina Wren this winter. They are not normally winter birds and are usually migratory. Their loud and beautiful song is one of the sounds of spring. This year, one stayed through the winter and looks perfectly healthy.
Last year, I had dozens of Brown-Headed Cowbirds but I haven’t seen a single one this year. I have seen hundreds of crows — once — and never seen another crow on the deck. I have seen hawks and American (Bald) Eagles in our woods. You can’t miss an eagle — any eagle. Even the smallest eagles are bigger than other raptors, and a full-grown American Eagle is so striking, even when you know nothing about birds, you won’t miss them.
Video and Resources From
Great Backyard Bird Count Webinar
Share the Joy of Birds: Participate in the GBBC
During yesterday’s webinar, Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) project coordinators from Audubon, Birds Canada, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology prepared viewers for the upcoming count which starts this Friday, February 12, and concludes on Monday, February 15. Watch birds from anywhere—not just your backyard—and count once or as many times as you like. Spend as little as 15 minutes or spend the long weekend counting. It’s up to you! Learn more about the GBBC and how to get involved.
Free Downloads: During the webinar, many of you asked for links to downloadable ID guides and Zoom backgrounds. Here they are—we hope you enjoy them!
- Tricky Finch ID
- Sparrow ID
- Common Feeder Birds
- Backyard Raptors
- Beautiful Zoom backgrounds for desktops and mobile devices
- You might also like these bird ID resources from the Cornell Lab and Audubon
If we didn’t answer your questions during the webinar, email us. Send all Cornell Lab of Ornithology general questions to email@example.com, or reach out directly to GBBC staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses from the GBBC may be slow due to high volume. View the GBBC FAQs for quick answers to all your counting questions!
Every February people from around the world spend time watching and counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Join the count running from February 12-15, to celebrate the birds near you while contributing to science!
However, we don’t see many hawks. This is a reasonably well-protected area. The hawks don’t like coming this close to a house, but I do see them in the woods and occasionally I see one of them trying to grab one of my birds as a snack. We have a huge forsythia hedge behind the house in which the birds hide. The bigger hawks can’t penetrate it because they are simply too big. I have seen them try. I couldn’t be sure what kind of hawk it was, but I think it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but it could have been a Sharp-Shinned Hawk too. They are the most avid eaters of smaller birds, but to be fair, all larger birds will eat the eggs and babies of smaller birds — or even birds their own size if they have the opportunity. It’s not a Disney cartoon out there.
Here are some links that will give you more information and you can get in contact with them — NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE — and ask questions and they will answer you. First, here’s the Webinar — and I have to tell you, I’m not a big fan of webinars, but I had questions and needed information.
Check out these resources:
I hope a few of you will participate. I joined Cornell Ornithology a few months ago. I pay the least amount you can pay which is $8/month because it’s not a lot of money and I felt I needed to put my money where my mouth (and camera) are. For those of us who have been locked up for months at home, this is a great chance to join into an international event without leaving home or your own backyard.