When you’re trying to study a group of animals that number into the billions, it’s hard to do it without the help of the average citizen. Luckily, this year the regular person stepped up to the plate for ornithologists and contributed in astounding numbers to the record-breaking Great Backyard Bird Count of 2012.
The results from this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count are remarkable on so many levels. Most importantly, more than 104,000 checklists were submitted this year, which easily beat the previous record of 95,000. This is significant because it means more people are getting involved in birding and contributing on a different level by participating in bird counts. As the New Hampshire Sentinel Source puts it, “That bodes well for the future of birds, as the more people who are interested in birds, the more people who are interested in protecting and saving birds.”
Aside from the record number of checklists submitted, this year’s count saw a huge number of birds due to the unusually warm winter with Snowy Owls venturing farther south into the United States and more birds appearing in the northern parts. As part of “the most detailed four-day snapshot ever recorded for birdlife in the U.S. and Canada,” this year featured an amazing array of species, both common and rare.
The most numerous bird spotted was the Snow Goose at more than 3 million individuals reported and a surprising 3 million Tree Swallows recorded. Even though those two species were the two most populous birds, two million of those Snow Geese were found at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri, and a million Tree Swallows were seen in Ruskin, Florida.
The bird featured on the most checklists was the Northern Cardinal. For a full look at the top 10 lists, take a look at the Great Backyard Bird Count site. Here’s a summary of some of what scientists noticed from the count.
Hopefully, this trend of people participating in the count will continue to grow, so we can learn more about bird behaviors in different climates.