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Join in the Fun of a National Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird CountYesterday as we began our morning, the sound of birds singing really punctuated the air. Robins, cardinals, mockingbirds, and wrens were singing their little hearts out. Spring migration is just around the corner and they will soon be joined with those brightly colored migratory songbirds traveling north as the weather warms.

If you enjoy seeing birds – either at your backyard bird feeder or if you are a novice or expert birdwatcher – you can join in on a national count of birds this February. Everyone can participate, whether you spend 15 minutes counting in your backyard or you count birds in multiple locations on different days, all of the data is helping scientists learn more about birds.

Why Count Birds?

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a once-a-year count done around the world that helps give a snapshot in time of ever changing bird populations. This information helps scientists see trends in migration patterns and changes in bird populations.

The first bird count was held in 1998 with birders submitting approximately 13,5000 checklists from North America. Last year, around 162,052 checklists were submitted from around the world. That’s 20 years worth of data!

There’s even a fun photo contest that GBBC participants can enter. You can enter a photo or just cast your vote for your favorite bird photo from the previous 11 years. See photos from 2016.

How It Works

The GBBC is a program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Go to their website to to sign up and for details about the program. This year, the count will be done from February 17th to February 20th.

It doesn’t take a lot of time. You can count for as little as 15 minutes for just one day or you can count for a longer period of time and on multiple days and locations. It’s fun for any age! Join up with a group of experienced birders to learn more about birds or do the count in your own backyard. This is a great tool to get kids involved in science and outdoors.

You’ll need to create an account at to participate in the GBBC. For each period of time that you count and for each location, you will fill out a separate checklist. When you are counting, do your best to estimate the number of individual birds of each species you saw during your count period and the results for each checklist will be submitted online at their website.

If you’d rather do your count on your phone, they have an app for that. The eBird Mobile app can be downloaded and used to submit your data.

Get Outdoors

This is a great family project and one that can be done in your own backyard. Get outdoors and count some birds!

Birds at Tara 

Tara Wildlife is a great place to see the beautiful and varied bird life of the Mississippi River valley. Its bottomland forests, wetlands, river shoreline, sloughs and other habitats harbor Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Bald Eagles, Prothonotary Warblers, Painted Buntings and many other species. An extensive network of woods roads and trails provide easy access to explore these habitats. Some birds are permanent residents, and others just pass through.

Birding resources

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