Citizen Science is for the Birds?

Every year since 1998, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society have teamed up in mid-February to sponsor the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is recognized as “the first on-line citizen science project to collect data on wild birds.” Since 1998, more than 100,000 people have participated and reported on the birds they see in their areas. This year the bird count starts on Friday February 13th and continues through Monday February 16th. The rules are simple – after you register on-line at gbbc.birdcount.org, you just count the numbers and types of birds you see for 15 minutes, on one or more of the 4 days! There is a checklist on-line to use to report your results. It’s also a great website to use to help identify birds you don’t recognize.

In 2014, people from 135 countries participated and reported almost 4,300 species of birds as more than 144,000 checklists were received. The results of last year’s bird count are really interesting and can be seen at gbbc.birdcount.org/news/top-10-lists/.

My wife and I have participated in the bird count for the last 7 years and some of the more colorful birds we have counted in our backyard are shown below (all photos courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornothology):

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Bluejay

Bluejay

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Hope you can join us this weekend and if you can, Happy Birding!!!

About the Author: Kevin Kubik serves as the region’s Deputy Director for the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment out of EPA’s Edison Environmental Center. He has worked as a chemist for the Region for more than 32 years in the laboratory and in the quality assurance program.

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