About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) Instructions

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual 4-day event during the third weekend of February that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of the bird population. You may find it helpful to print a regional tally sheet so you have a list of birds you’re likely to see in your area in February. Get it here: http://gbbc.birdsource.org/gbbcApps/checklist 

  • WATCH: Count birds at any location for at least 15 minutes—or more if you wish.
  • TALLY: Write down only the highest number of each species you see at any one time to avoid counting the same birds more than once. For example, if you see 8 cardinals as you start your count period, then later you see 12, and later still you see 3, you’ll only report 12--the highest number you saw together at once. Please do not add the numbers together.  
  • SUBMIT: Go online to submit your data. It’s OK if you count at the same location each day—submit a new list for each day. Submit a new checklist for each new location. You can submit more than one checklist on a given day if you count at more than one site.
When you’re ready to enter your checklist(s), go to the GBBC website at http://www.birdcount.org/ and click on the big “Submit your checklists” button at the top. You won’t see this button until 7:00 AM the Friday the GBBC begins. Everything you need to know will be clear on the web page as you enter your information. Some of the questions asked when you submit a checklist are:
  • LOCATION: Enter the zip code where you did your count or the town name & state.
  • DETAILS: Fill in the online form.
  • CHECKLIST: Fill in the boxes next to each bird species name with the highest number of that species you saw together at one time during your count. You can arrange the list in taxonomic or alphabetical order. If you don’t see a species listed, click the button that says “show rarities.” If it’s still not there, enter the species in the “comment” box for later reference, but note that it will not go into the GBBC database.
If you do see something unusual, it’s VERY helpful if you can take a digital photo just in case confirmation of the sighting is needed.

If you want us to send you an email of your report, be sure to click the box for that and hit the “submit” button at the bottom of the final page—and you’re done! Follow this procedure for each checklist.

There are answers to many other questions in our FAQ section!

Thank you for joining the Great Backyard Bird Count!

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