The Great Backyard Bird Count

This week’s blog post is written by Monthly Blog Correspondent and bird enthusiast, Peter.  He tells us all about his experience with the Great Backyard Bird Count – an annual event that encourages birders across the globe to get out and spot their feathered friends, recording and submitting the data to assist research.

Peter L.

Every year in February, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada organize a worldwide 4-day bird count. This count is known as the Great Backyard Bird Count, or more simply, the GBBC.

This picture is of my brother Calvin, my Grandfather, and I on a bird identification hike on the Great Gorge Trail in Ohiopyle State Park.

Thousands of bird watchers around the globe report checklists of bird sightings to the official website of the Great Backyard Bird Count, The National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada use and analyze the data provided in this 4-day event to determine the health of bird populations and the ranges in which birds live.

I am sitting in an old hay field watching a pair of Red-tailed Hawks.


The GBBC is very easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is create an account on the website, and report the bird species you see or hear during the 4-days of the GBBC. You can count at a bird feeder, in a field, in the woods, or anywhere else. You can watch from a window, walk a trail, or report birds you see or hear while doing other activities. You can count for any length of time from any location in the world.

I am sitting atop a rock outlook in Ohiopyle State Park, looking for birds.

This year, I participated in the GBBC for the first time. I have always had an interest in birds, but before this year, I had scarcely even heard of the Great Backyard Bird Count, let alone had interest in it. However, my interest in birds has grown greatly since I visited the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch last fall. I am especially interested in Raptors, but I love watching other birds as well. After putting out my bird feeders early this winter, I looked forward to the GBBC.

This is a picture of a male Northern Cardinal sitting in an Eastern Hemlock that I took during the Great Backyard Bird Count. The picture is focused on the Hemlock needles, which provides an interesting effect.

I counted birds all 4 days this year. I identified over 25 species of birds, and spent over 6 hours counting within my local area. I also submitted multiple sightings of birds that I saw while riding in the car or doing other activities. I greatly enjoyed counting birds and being outdoors. Participating in the GBBC was rewarding because not only was I observing birds, but also because I knew I was contributing to the research being done on bird populations.

In addition, I submitted multiple photos to the Great Backyard Bird Count Photo Contest. The GBBC holds a photo contest for pictures taken of birds or people watching birds during the four days of the GBBC. The photos are placed in five different categories and judged by judges from the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The only requirements for the photos are that they are original, taken during the GBBC, and taken of birds or people watching birds.

This is a picture of a Ring-necked Pheasant that I saw in an old hay field during the Great Backyard Bird Count. I submitted this picture to the Photo Contest.

Ultimately, whether or not bird watching is your passion, the GBBC is still a great way to enjoy nature and wildlife. You will have fun and feel happy that you contributed to the research that organizations are doing on bird populations. Participating is a good way to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of your local bird species. It is very easy to find out information about the GBBC on the Internet, and I strongly encourage you to participate in next year’s GBBC. Happy Bird Watching!