Eastside Audubon Society encourages local citizens to participate the Great Backyard Bird Count from February 16-19, 2018. Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on birds and display the results in real time. The annual event has more than 160,000 participants around the world.
All participants need to do is observe birds around them for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then tally the numbers of birds that have been seen. The data can then but uploaded to eBird, an online database for birds created by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. If you have not participated before, you will need to create a free, online account at ebird.org. According to the Great Backyard Bird Count’s website (gbbc.birdcount.org), in 2017, participants from more than 100 countries counted more than 6200 species of birds.
Scientists use this information, and that from other sources, to help determine what is happening to bird populations. This data helps determine how climate change may impact bird populations, seasonal bird migration patterns, changes in species diversity, and how many birds are present compared to previous years.
“Citizen science initiatives like the Great Backyard Bird Count are great ways for individuals to actively participate in meaningful data collection that can be used to see our impacts on the environment. This project is easy to do but provides necessary scientific information,” Eastside Audubon’s Executive Director, Tereza Marks said.