Winter is the perfect time to begin identifying birds in the Northeast. There are fewer species around, and smaller total numbers of birds than at other times of the year. The birds may even be at fairly close range near a feeder, so you may not even need binoculars to see the important features.
This weekend, February 13-16 is the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). During these dates, birders all over the world will be going birding (participants can go birding anywhere, not just at their homes). One goal of the event is to encourage more people to take notice of the birds around them. Last year, more than 142,000 people from 135 countries received observations of over 4,200 species.
It is very easy and flexible to participate. During the GBBC simply spend at least 15 minutes identifying the bird species that you see, and estimate the numbers of each species. Participants can submit their sightings through the eBird portal on the GBBC website. The Great Backyard Bird Count provides an important snapshot of bird populations. While birds are everywhere, scientists are not, and by getting people to participate in as many places as possible, it will allow a lot of important information to be collected. Your participation will ensure that ‘your’ birds are counted.
Data collected from previous years has helped reveal migration patterns, year-to-year variation in species numbers, and long-term population trends. While your participation may seem a modest contribution, the more people that get involved, the more meaningful the results will be.
So, dig out and brush off that bird field guide lying around your home (or use some of the electronic resources available on the website), and gain an appreciation of the birds that survive and even thrive in a Northeast Winter.