The Great Backyard Bird Count

Let’s Get Counting!

The Great Backyard Bird Count

When you picture a birder, what comes to mind? If you’ve seen the 2011 caper The Big Year, you might imagine an older white man (Steve Martin, is that you?), obsessively focused on growing his life list, ticking off species in far-flung destinations all over the world. Your mental birder might be toting a pair of binoculars, carrying a camera with a lens longer than he is tall, and is probably wearing a tactical vest. 

An unexpected benefit of the early pandemic lockdown is that it made neighborhood naturalists of us all. When life ground to a halt, we took stock of the living things around us in new ways. Many more people found their way to birding than ever before. The hobby is growing more accessible and diverse, with groups like the Feminist Bird Club, the Black AF in STEM Collective who organize the annual Black Birders Week, and Birdability leading the way. 

The barrier to entry to birding is low: you don’t even need binoculars to check out what’s going on outside your window. A pencil and paper to sketch or keep track of what you see is a great addition, but not required. But when you’re ready, a world of citizen science awaits you. 

Anyone with a cell phone or access to a computer can contribute to ongoing citizen science efforts if they’re so inclined. eBird, a database managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, makes it possible to submit real data, which is relied upon by scientists worldwide for research purposes. 

This weekend is the perfect time to tune into the birds right outside your own door. Since 1998, the Cornell Lab and the National Audubon Society have organized the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Birds Canada joined the coalition in 2009 and their combined efforts have led to a global effort in local birding. Any checklist submitted via eBird between February 17 and February 20 counts towards GBBC totals. 

Make a plan to visit your favorite local spots and do at least 15 minutes of birding this holiday weekend. Teatown’s trails are waiting for you – and we have two eBird hotspots on the property, so be sure to select Teatown Lake Reservation or Cliffdale Farm to log any birds you see during your visit. 

Happy Counting!

About the Author

Emily Edmonds-Langham
Director of Education

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