Nature Canada

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Ted Cheskey Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks

Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks

In 2015, nearly 150,000 individual checklists were submitted that documented over 18 million birds observed during the 4 day long Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This citizen science initiative is a great way to watch birds at your feeders, keep track of what you see, and contribute to our knowledge on the distribution and abundance of birds.

In 2016, the GBBC runs from February 12 through 15.  Participating is fun, simple and easy so get the whole family involved!

Image of birds at a feederHere’s how it works:

All you need to do is count the number of individuals of each species you see during a single counting session, and submit a checklist for each counting session. A counting session can take 5 minutes or 30 minutes, however much time you wish to observe.  You can do multiple counting sessions over a day or over all four days. From each session, you record the maximum number that you observe at any one time for each species. You can count in more than one location—but you submit a separate checklist for each location each time you count. The birds you count don’t need to be just at your feeder, but can be flying over, or anywhere that you can observed them from your observation point.

Organizers of this event are predicting a large number of unusual observations, with the El Niño weather phenomenon warming Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded. Information gathered and reported online at will help track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and unusual weather patterns.

Image of birds eating out of a handThough rarities and out-of-range species are exciting, it’s important to keep track of more common birds too. Many species around the world are in steep decline and tracking changes in distribution and numbers over time is vital to determine if conservation measures are needed. Everyone can play a role.

Learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.


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