Tag Archives: Great Backyard Bird Count

Birders Flock Together to Count Birds

The 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count took flight February 17th – 20th. Over the course of 4 days, thousands of people joined outdoors to count our feathered friends.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with Canadian partner, Bird Studies Canada. The GBBC is part of the eBird online checklist program, allowing anyone anywhere in the world with Internet connection to participate in bird counts. The GBBC program lets you keep track of your bird life list, yard list, or even state list by automatically storing and updating observations on eBird.
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This last weekend, over 154 thousand checklists were submitted, with more than 5.5 thousand species observed, totaling to over 23 million birds counted! On Saturday, birders from Elkins, West Virginia, joined AFHA AmeriCorps member Aeriel Wauhob, serving with our agency’s West Virginia Field Office, to survey birds in a city park. From the morning’s 18 surveys, 210 birds from 25 different species were added to the database by the enthusiastic birders.

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The GBBC survey data provides a long-term record of how bird populations are changing. From the information gathered, it can be used to track migration patterns, changes in abundance and distribution of birds, and visualize the complex patterns of bird movements. Scientists can analyze the data to see trends on how well birds are coping with environmental changes such as urbanization, global climate change, and disease.img_20170218_103733524_hdr.jpg

Data collected by the GBBC is very important to bird population tracking. The amount of information that is recorded over such a short amount of time could never be accomplished by a team of scientists, let alone a single scientist. GBBC observations become part of a permanent record for the public to view. To participate in the next Great Backyard Bird Count or if you would like to explore the data from the bird count please visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org.

Record number of eagles at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Bald eagles are easier to see perched in the trees this time of year. Credit: Jessica Bolser/USFWS

Bald eagles are easier to see perched in the trees this time of year. Credit: Jessica Bolser/USFWS

Bald eagle closeup. Credit: Bruce Hallman/USFWS

Bald eagle closeup. Credit: Bruce Hallman/USFWS

Now’s the time to see bald eagles in the Northeast, but the eastern shore of Maryland is a great spot to see abundant bald eagles throughout the year. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge hosts the greatest nesting density of breeding bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida. Wintering eagles are drawn to the refuge by the abundance of migratory geese and ducks.

Blackwater refuge’s annual mid-winter eagle survey wrapped up last month with a whopping 207 eagles–the highest in 36 years! Staff and 25 volunteers braved the cold temperatures and staked out areas across the refuge to spot eagles at their roosts in the evenings and on the hunt for food elsewhere in the mornings. Even two golden eagles were spotted.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Ray Paterra/USFWS

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Ray Paterra/USFWS

The last record was in 2011, with 178 eagles, meaning this is also the first time the record broke the 200 mark.

The eagle population at Blackwater has been steadily increasing with slight fluctuations since 1980. Results continue to suggest an increasing population, with 125 immature bald eagles counted this year.

Child viewing wildlife at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

Child viewing wildlife at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

Did you see an eagle this past weekend? Make sure send it in for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Whenever you head out to look for eagles or other wildlife, use these tips to avoid stressing critters out.

Also…Check out this news story about a Delaware News Journal citizen science project that found bald eagles in almost every part of the state and into Maryland and Pennsylvania. A big change from the mid 1980s, when just four nests were confirmed in the state. Our eagle experts are in it!

One bird, two bird, three bird, more: participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend!

Today we are hearing from Division of Migratory Birds volunteer Lee Halasz.

Today we are hearing from Division of Migratory Birds volunteer Lee Halasz.

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.

Tufted Titmouse is a hardy winter species often found at backyard bird feeders.

Tufted Titmouse is a hardy winter species often found at backyard bird feeders.

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.

The Black-capped Chickadee is a common winter species.

The Black-capped Chickadee is a common winter species.

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.