June 20th, 2024

Birds Canada takes flight with Great Backyard Bird Count

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 9, 2022.

Herald file photo by Ian Martens A red-breasted nuthatch hangs from the bark of a tree in the city. The song bird can be found throughout much of Canada and the United States.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count is celebrating their 25th anniversary and everyone is invited to join the count Feb.18 to Feb. 21.
“To participate in the count, we ask people to watch and count the numbers and kinds of birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one of the days of the count,” said Kerrie Wilcox, Canadian leader of Project FeederWatch from Birds Canada.
She said after that, people will submit their findings online using the Merlin Bird ID app, eBird Mobile App, or eBird website.
Participants will need to enter a new checklist for each new location or time of day during their four-day count. They are also invited to tune in to a special webinar about how to participate in the GBBC on Feb. 16 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM Eastern Time.
“The Great Backyard Bird Count is in its 25th year. We are seeing changes over the years. This real-time research provides students, researchers and the general public access to decades of bird reporting,” said Wilcox.
She said the birds that are counted become part of a massive database used by scientists to track changes in bird populations over time.
“Tracking the health of our bird populations is important, and we must all do what we can to use what we learn, to take action to help our environment,” said Wilcox.
She said for beginner birders, she would recommend using the Merlin Bird ID app to identify and submit birds. 
“The app asks you a series of three questions: what size is the bird, what are the main colours and what was it doing? It then gives you a list of possible matches. Click on Yes, this was my bird and you have participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count,” said Wilcox.
For those who are a little more experienced or that have participated in the count before, she asks that they use eBird online or the eBird app to enter a list of the birds in their backyard or favourite birding location.
A record number of participants joined the 2021 count. An estimated 300,000 people submitted checklists reporting 6,436 species.
“There were 836 checklists from SK in 2021,” said Wilcox.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Birds Canada.
“It started 25 years ago, it was a test to see if people would do live reporting online, of the birds they were seeing and it works awesome a lot of people even participated the first year so that’s what launched the Great Backyard Bird Count,” said Wilcox.
She said it has always been a free event which started in North America and it is great for beginners or for people that are expert birders.
“You don’t have to sign up, you just go on the website or the eBird app and you create a site location for where you’re birding and then enter the birds you saw,” said Wilcox.
She said this program helps them track bird populations so they can look at which species are doing well, and which ones need their conservation attention.
Visit BirdsCanada.org to print a photo identification guide that you can take with you during the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Go to Birdscanada.org and click on Discover Birds and select Birds in Your Region
 For winter backyard birds, to download the top 25 feeder birds go to https://birdscanada.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CommonFeederBirds-East-BirdsCanada2020.pdf

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