The Great Backyard Bird Count

The age-old activity of bird-watching becomes even more meaningful during the Great Backyard Bird Count, an event which helps scientists gauge bird populations around the world.


| December 2013/January 2014


Break out your binoculars and perch on your porches, folks, because the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes flight again soon. From Feb. 14 to 17, the Audubon Society and other sponsors invite bird-watchers worldwide to count the various species of birds they see and report their counts at Bird Source. Collectively, participants will provide a real-world snapshot of bird populations in different areas. While the GBBC is loads of feathery fun, it has a serious side, too. 

Scientists use the counts recorded, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, to see what’s happening to bird populations — and, sadly, the outlook is worrisome. A 2007 Audubon report based on citizen-science data showed that the populations of 20 common North American birds had been cut in half in the past four decades. We can all participate in caring for and thinking about winged wildlife, and hopefully future springs the world over will not be silent, but alive with birdsong.


Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and .





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