NEW YORK — Bird and nature fans throughout North America are invited to join tens of thousands of bird watchers for the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count on Feb. 13-16.
A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, it is free and an opportunity for families, students and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation.
"Anyone who can identify even a few species can contribute to the body of knowledge that is used to inform conservation efforts to protect birds and biodiversity," said Audubon Education Vice-President Judy Braus.
Volunteers take part by counting birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the event and reporting their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. The data help researchers understand bird population trends across the continent, information that is critical for effective conservation. In 2008, participants submitted more than 85,000 checklists, a new record.
"The GBBC has become a vital link in the arsenal of continent wide bird-monitoring projects," said Cornell Lab of Ornithology Director John Fitzpatrick. "With more than a decade of data now in hand, the GBBC has documented striking changes in late-winter bird distributions."
Participants submit thousands of digital images for the GBBC photo contest each year. Last year’s winners have been chosen and are now posted on the Web site. Participants are also invited to upload their bird videos to YouTube tagged "GBBC."