From Friday, February 18 through Monday, February 21, everyone is encouraged to participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), which enlists help in trying to track and record information about bird populations.
Since it is nearly impossible for a group of scientists to go around the country to collect this amount of data at one time, the GBBC relies heavily on amateur birders to assist.
Participants fill out a checklist available on the site that documents things like locale, type of location, how many people are there and how long they watch. A session of counting can be as little as 15 minutes and as long as desired.
Counting the birds can be tricky. You are only supposed to count the highest number of one species you see all together. Since you need identify the species, be sure to get a good bird guide or visit All About Birds.
The count, a joint project of the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is aiming to answer some important questions about bird populations. Some of these include:
- How will the winter affected populations?
- How are diseases affecting birds in different regions?
- Are there any birds declining in population?
- What are the differences in bird diversity in different areas?
Last year, there were nearly 100,000 checklist submissions and results yielded interesting finds, including fewer gulls and species migrating earlier.