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February 18, 2017 / Leslie

2017 Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place this weekend, February 17 – 20. The event was started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. It was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.


Citizen Scientists Needed

The Backyard Bird Count is an opportunity for citizen scientists around the world to help researchers by spending a few minutes counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. It’s as easy as looking out your window for 15 minutes or going for a walk at a local park. People of all ages and skill levels can participate.

I’ve been participating in the count for quite a few years and this is the first time I can remember having spring-like weather for the entire weekend. Because it’s so pleasant, I’m out walking the trails instead of looking out my window and counting the birds in the backyard.

Spring Migration is About To Begin

The reason the count originated as a February event was to create a snapshot of the distribution of birds just before spring migration begin in March. Several years ago a change was made and the count went global, creating snapshots of birds wherever they are in February regardless of seasons across the hemispheres.

Red-winged Blackbird Male

On my walk this morning I saw several Red-winged Blackbirds already scouting the prairie wetlands and calling out to defend their newly claimed territory. Females won’t arrive until next month.

Northern Cardinals and Song Sparrows were singing, House Sparrows were chattering, and the small pond had over 25 Mallards swimming around – a sure sign spring is near.

Want to Participate in the Count?

There’s still a few more days to count. Head on over to the GBBC start-up page and join in.


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Leave a Comment
  1. Diane / Feb 18 2017 5:33 pm

    I think it is so neat that you do this every year. I was shocked to see a robin in 20 degree weather last week, they used to fly south.


    • Leslie / Feb 18 2017 5:54 pm

      A lot of them do leave, but more are staying north because of the increase in the availability of food. I started seeing them in my yard a few weeks ago. They were eating the berries on the eastern cedar tree.


  2. WordsAndPeace / Feb 18 2017 7:52 pm

    too bad I didn’t check your post earlier. I did a lot of backyard birding, I could have counted. and today, there was flock upon flock of sand-hill cranes over our house, 3 weeks earlier than ever, since I have kept track. and they left just 2 months ago!
    chickadees have slowly changed their winter to spring call about 2 weeks ago, and morning doves are starting cooing. and we saw 2 male cardinals fighting today, a sign of spring too, right?
    though it’s going to freeze again end of next week.
    this is all so weird.
    in Elmhurst, there’s a couple of streets where I see robins all winter, every year. I would love to know what’s so special for them in that area. in fact one is along the college parking, and no backyards wit feeder, mystery


  3. Laura @ Library of Clean Reads / Feb 19 2017 10:32 am

    I love birdsong when I’m strolling outside but I have to admit I am not good at recognizing the different bird species.


  4. Sue / Feb 20 2017 1:04 pm

    It’s all happening so much earlier this year, it seems. Or maybe we are just having a lull between winter cold snaps…that won’t make the early migrants very happy.


  5. readerbuzz / Feb 22 2017 7:05 am

    I’d love to participate next year. Where I live is considered a wonderful place for birders.


  6. Gurn / Jul 10 2017 6:08 pm

    I have not heard of this before. I will definitely have to do this next go around. Thank you for sharing.


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