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.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Everyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count

I would love to do the GBBC this year but I don’t know the names of all my birds.

Don't worry you don't need to know all your birds. Everyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It doesn't matter if you live in the city or country, feed birds or not, are an expert birder or just a casual observer.

It's super fun, super easy, and a great opportunity for young and old to connect with nature and participate in a huge science project.  It just takes a minimum of 15 minutes of observation. (See How to Participate.)

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 or you can find Michigan’s most common backyard birds at http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2011/10/most-common-winter-birds-in-michigan.html

How's it work:
  • WATCH: Count birds at any location for at least 15 minutes—or more if you wish. You can be at a park or looking out your office window.
  • 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. They will ask you the level of your bird identification skills and whether you are reporting all the birds or just the ones you recognized. It’s simple!
Where to enter checklists:
Photo by Amanda Boyarshinov, FL
  2012 GBBC
When you’re ready to enter your checklists, go to the GBBC website at http://www.birdcount.org/ and click on the big “Submit your checklists” button at the top. This button becomes active 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 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.
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.

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

Bird watchers worldwide can take part this year. Make sure to pass this information out to all your friends and family. Thank you for joining the Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited.

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