Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Well, I had the week all planned out - five more posts on the Arctic before going on to other things.  But fate and my laptop interfered and I touched the wrong key and totally lost the entire 4th post in the group.  Now I've started over to write that post again, but it will take a few days, so I'll keep trying to post some other things of interest, starting today with the Great Backyard Bird Count.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) started in 1998, as an effort to build a large international database on bird sightings through 'citizen science'.  It's run by the Audubon Society. the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Birds Canada. three of the most reputable agencies in North America, and the work is all done by citizen volunteers.  The annual event is on this weekend from tomorrow, Feb. 12th to Monday Feb 15th. so you get 4 days to keep track of the birds you see.   

You can easily google GBBC to find out all about it.  They encourage you to use one of two phone apps, either Merlin Bird ID app, or the eBird Mobile app to keep track of and submit your bird list.  You must watch for birds for a minimum of 15 minutes over the 4 days, but I'm almost always keeping an eye out for birds that come to the feeder, and often sitting in front of the window watching, so that won't be hard.

Most people will just be submitting the birds that come to their feeders, and I'm sure I'll see both Chickadees and Nuthatches, but I don't know about much else.  There might also be a woodpecker or two, a Goldfinch, and perhaps a Crow or gull flying in the distance.  Some will go out birding, perhaps to see ducks and gulls along the waterfront.

But I realize that even seeing just a few birds is important information to submit, because it helps establish current population levels.  The fact that we've seen fewer birds this year than in the past is part of the picture, so I'm going to participate regardless.  And I think it's useful for an old geezer like myself to figure out these fancy phone apps, just to be sure my electronic ability doesn't fossilize!  Our grandson out west is rapidly passing me!

So far the GBBC has proven remarkably popular.  Participation is growing rapidly and reached just under 250,000 last year, with nearly 7000 different species observed.  Interestingly, though the U.S. dominates participation, India ranks second; the U.S., India and Canada heavily outweigh the rest of the world.

So if you're bored and want something to do during the next four days, try it yourself.  It looks both easy and fun.  I'll let you know how I do next week.

In the meantime it continues snowy here, with both a gentle flurry and pale sunshine, a 'sunflurry', out the window at the moment.  The snow just keeps on accumulating, light and fluffy.

The wheelchair technician was here this morning, and adjusted my seat cushion.  Wheelchair cushions can deteriorate quickly, especially the kind I have, but this kind helps avoid pressure sores and since I'm sitting in it 12 hours a day that's important.  It feels quite different now, as I'm sitting up straighter.  We hope it will help.  I've developed my own simple series of stretches to do, in order to at least maintain my limited trunk strength if not improve it.


  1. Thank you for the reminder!
    I will give it a try, between naps. lol

  2. Usually we take part in this as part of our club's activity. We travel to three different houses and count there. The first two provide coffee and little snacks, muffins - that kind of thing, and at the third we have lunch. We have been doing it for years and it is a wonderful social event with citizen science as the driving force. Sadly, this year due to COVID it will not take place - at least not together. Good luck with your count. Over the past few days Common Redpolls have been showing up in my backyard. It started with two and today there were seven.

  3. Oh how frustrating to have lost all your work. Nice to see the birds though. :)

  4. I do love that view out into the snow.

  5. Hopefully you'll get more birds than you've been seeing lately. Many years ago a friend who was a bird bander came to band the birds at our feeder. We thought we had eight black-capped chickadees, ten at the most, visiting our feeders -- she banded 26 chickadees before exhausting her supply of that size band. One of those birds visited the feeder for the next three years, it was the last to disappear.

  6. I did the Christmas bird count. I keep track, too, of the birds at the feeder.

  7. Good luck with the count and the cushion. I hadn't heard of the count before - I won't take part since I'd have to sit in the very, very, very cold sunroom to do so. I do know I have chickadees and I suspect the others are the nuthatches you mention. I also have a set of Hungarian partridges who regularly visit the area around the feeder.

    Take care, stay well.

  8. I think I may have heard of that bird count a number of years ago but had forgotten about it. When I was a member of the Stratford Field Naturalist Club back in the late 80's I was more in tune with things like that. Always so nice to see the birds outside at the feeders. They are like little feathered angels.

  9. I shared my partial view of a chickadee the other day. I have seen nuthatches in my state but not anymore as I don't live near large trees anymore.