The 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 22. Each year, volunteers across the country tally the birds they see in backyards, parks and natural areas. Last year, GBBC participants racked up more than 11 million observations and identified 596 species! Counting birds during GBBC helps scientists gain a snapshot of how winter bird populations are changing across North America over the years by documenting things like:
- Rare sightings: In 2011, a Brown Shrike was spotted in California, far from its home in Asia. A Swainson’s Thrush, which usually winters in Central and South America, was reported in North Carolina.
- Population Changes: American Crow numbers fell after being hard hit by West Nile virus in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but recent GBBC data shows that the population may be rebounding. Future data will help scientists determine if the crow population is really recovering.
- Spread of Invasive Species: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is an invasive species that was introduced in Florida in the 1980s and has expanded its range ever since. In 1999, the dove’s range covered eight states. In 2011, it had expanded to 40 states, including Alaska – its most northerly reach yet.
Viewer Tip: Collecting all this data would be impossible without the help of thousands of volunteers. Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. Simple instructions for counting and reporting birds are available at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html. You can also find regional bird checklists, photo galleries, resources for kids and more!
The Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove were the two most frequently reported birds during last year’s count.Click here for high resolution photos for media use in conjunction with reports about the Great Backyard Bird Count.