For the love of birds and getting happier by being outdoors, don’t miss this global event: the 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
This weekend (February 12 – 15, 2021 / Friday – Monday), people all around the globe will share in the joy of noticing, watching, counting, and celebrating birds! We encourage you to join us in the fun. In our excitement about this global event that is all about birds and not a virus, we’re even hosting a giveaway.
What is the Great Backyard Bird Count?
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a 4-day event in February organized by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada. During this time frame, anyone, anywhere is invited to spend as much time in nature as they’d like watching and counting the birds they see and report their findings. The collected observations from around the world give scientists important information about global bird populations before one of their seasonal migrations.
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) also introduces the joy of bird-watching and nature-appreciation to more people every year.
In 2020, an estimated 268,674 people in 194 countries counted over 27 million birds, identifying 6,942 species of birds.
GBBC official website: Birdcount.org
How to Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count
Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is easy, fun, happier-making – and can be done anywhere birds can be seen. It does not have to be in a backyard. All you have to do is watch birds for at least 15 minutes, on at least one of the 4 days (2/12 – 2/15 , Friday – Monday) and submit your count via eBird.
If you’ve previously participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) or are pretty confident in being able to identify all the birds you see, you can go straight to using the eBird Mobile app or submit your bird list on the eBird website.
To help identify birds you see, we recommend the Merlin Bird ID app for your smartphone. This is a Cornell Lab app, which works directly with their bird counting app eBird. If you identify a bird with Merlin Bird ID, you’ll be automatically asked if you want to add it to your eBird count. Learn more and get the free Merlin Bird ID app.
Happier Tip: Install and try out the apps before you want to start your count, so you’re confident and ready to start counting when it counts.
Count Birds and Win-Win-Win!
First win: we believe that birding makes people happier. Why? We plan on posting a detailed article about why birding makes you happier soon. Until then: birding makes you feel connected to nature, which is established to make us happier. Birding with others makes you feel connected to people, which is also nice. And while you’re focused on all the intriguing, light-weight, and speedy things birds do, you probably forgot all your worries for a little while.
Secondly, you’ll be participating in a global online citizen-science project (aka community science), which means you’ll be doing something meaningful and helpful for science, for birds, and for our planet – while feeling connected to people everywhere. That makes you a winner.
Third: we are giving away actual prizes. While we’re in no way associated with the organizers of the Great Backyard Bird Count, we think it’s such a great idea that we’d like to motivate people to participate by offering prizes. Also we’re curious about which birds you see in your neck of the woods in February.
- How to enter our bird count giveaway: leave a comment in the reply section below this article with a list of the birds you saw – and where and when you watched for birds during the 24th Great Backyard Bird Count weekend (Feb 12 – 15). Deadline: Wednesday (Feb 17) evening. Winners have to be at least 18 years old. The more lists you add (from different days), the more entries you get.
- Winners + Prizes: Winners and prizes will be announced here and on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Story) on Friday, Feb 19.
- 1st prize – a “Take a Break. Go outside. Have fun.” shoulder bag + a Happier Place notebook set (3 notebooks)
- 2nd prize – a Happier Place notebook set (3 notebooks)
- 3rd prize – one Happier Place notebook (winner’s choice)
Share Your Birdwatching Photos and Win Some More
Upload your favorite bird photos to eBirds so they can become part of the Macaulay Library, the scientific archive of natural history. You can’t add photos to eBird via the mobile app – just via the eBird website. Here are instructions on how to upload photos to the eBird / Macaulay Library database.
You can submit “Joy of Birdwatching” photos of people connecting to nature through birds HERE to win Bird Academy prizes and for a chance to have your photo featured on the Great Backyard Bird Count, Audubon Society, Birds Canada, or Cornell Lab of Ornithology websites and publications.
Let’s Inspire Each Other
Have you ever been part of the Great Backyard Bird Count – or any other group wildlife counting events? What was your experience like? Had you heard about the GBBC before?
Will you be counting this weekend? Where will you go to watch and count birds – at home or somewhere else?
Please leave a comment below – inspired by these questions or whatever you’d like to share…
And don’t forget to add your bird sighting list to enter our giveaway!
All photos in this post by Luci Westphal.