Worldwide birdwatching event starts Feb. 12

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The 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count is on Feb. 12 to 15.

David Bonter, with the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said the count is an opportunity for budding birdwatchers and bird-count veterans to use their skills.

People from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and then enter their checklists online.

“The Great Backyard Bird Count is a simple, welcoming project that both new and veteran birdwatchers enjoy,” said Bonter. “Birds are everywhere and can be counted in backyards, neighbourhoods, suburban parks, wild areas and cities. Scientists need the eyes of the world to collect information about where the birds are.”

During the 2020 count, birdwatchers set new records for the event, turning in nearly 250,000 lists of birds seen, from more than 100 countries, identifying nearly 7,000 of the world’s estimated 10,000 bird species.


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Data gathered by the bird count and other survey projects highlight changes in the numbers and distribution of wild birds over time.

“By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, community scientists contribute data that we use to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow,” said Chad Wilsey, chief scientist at National Audubon Society. “In return, studies tell us that pausing to observe birds, their sounds and movements, improve human health. Participating in the count is a win-win for birds and people.”

For the first time this year, observation can be sent through the Cornell Lab’s free Merlin Bird ID app. As in the past, the eBird platform on a mobile app and computer also can be used to enter data.

Participants are urged to watch birds safely in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, following health and safety protocols.

To take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Birds Canada, visit

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