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The Great Backyard Bird Count

by Mary Anderson on 2023-02-17T08:35:07-06:00 | 0 Comments


Each year in mid-February, before many birds in the northern hemisphere begin their annual spring migrations, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). For a four-day period, this year beginning on February 17, people are invited to spend at least fifteen minutes in their favorite bird watching location, identifying and noting all the birds they hear and see, and then reporting that data. The data is reviewed by experts and then used to better understand the changes in the population and habitats of wild birds.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the GBBC. It was started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. In 2009 Birds of Canda joined the project, expanding its reach. It became a global project in 2013, when it began using eBird for the data. Last year, about 385,000 people from 192 countries took part in the GBBC. It is not the first such project, but unlike other bird counts like the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count and Cornell Lab’s Project Feeder Watch, it is very accessible to beginners. New participants in the program are encouraged to use the Merlin Bird ID app to help them identify the birds they are hearing and seeing. The Loras community can also take advantage of our database Birds of the World as well as our book display on the Library’s third floor.

The GBBC is now the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project. Citizen science is simply public involvement in scientific research, the origins of which go back thousands of years. However, the modern form of this kind of shared research didn’t develop until science became a professional activity, and the term “citizen science” was not coined until the mid-1990s. In addition to counting birds and other fauna and flora, citizen scientists are involved in monitoring air pollution, testing water quality, collecting weather data, reporting on light pollution, documenting landscape change, and much more.

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