If you are looking for a birding activity that is fun, can involve the entire family, takes as little as 15 minutes of your time, helps bird conservation efforts, and is free, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) may be just what the doctor ordered. The 2022 GBBC will take place February 18-21.
The GBBC was launched in 1998 in an effort to determine the status of wintering bird populations across the United States. In 2009, the survey area was expanded in include Canada. Then in 2013, the survey went global.
This bird survey depends on the voluntary participation of folks living around the globe. Without their efforts, the survey could not succeed. I am sure that the success of the organizations that sponsor the event (The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada) must be astounded to see how the public has embraced this project. Look at these figures: in 2021, approximately 300,000 men and women living in 190 countries submitted sightings of 6,436 species of birds
If you have never taken part in a GBBC, why not do so this year? To participate, all you have to do is select an area you would like to survey. Although the count’s name suggests each survey must take place in a backyard, you can actually count birds wherever you like. For example, if you are a teacher, you and your class might survey the school grounds. Others tally the birds they see in their neighborhoods, in city and state parks, national wildlife refuges, or state wildlife management areas. Others prefer to conduct their counts while leisurely walking along the ocean.
After you have made your selection(s), all you have to do is count all of the birds you can identify within your count area for a minimum of 15 minutes. You can do this once or each of the four days of the count period. You can also conduct multiple counts at several locations. I know folks that routinely survey six to eight areas each day throughout the 4-day count period. Once you have completed a count you then enter the data online. It is a simple as that.
If you think this might be something you would like to try, visit the GBBC website (birdcount.org). Here you will find a wealth of information concerning the count, and instructions on how to register as a member of the 2022 count team. The site also tells you where you can download a checklist of the birds you are most likely to encounter, as well as directions on how you can follow worldwide participation in the count in real time.
Last year 6,922 checklists were received from Georgia. These checklists were enough to earn Georgia 13th place among the 50 states. The only Southeastern states that ranked higher is participation were Florida (5th) with 12,892 lists, and North Carolina. In the Tar Heel State, a total of 10,335 checklists earned Georgia’s neighbor to the north 8th place.
If you take part in the count for the first time this year, chances are you will look forward to the GBBC for years to come.