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2009 Great Backyard Bird Count Sets a New Record

Hoary Redpoll
Hoary Redpoll, by 2009 counter Harry Mueller of Manitoba.

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The Great Backyard Bird Count has been getting greater (in terms of participation) ever since it started more than a decade ago. When online checklist submissions closed on Sunday we were at a new all-time record of 93,402 checklists, with some paper checklists still to be counted. That’s an increase of about 8,000 checklists, or almost 10 percent, over last year – and it raises the possibility that we might hit the 100,000 mark next year. Great work everyone!

Lab of Ornithology and Audubon staff are still hard at work compiling an official results summary, but you can check out preliminary results on the website right now. Be sure to look over the Top Ten lists to see how your favorite species or your home town, state, or province did. Some things I noticed:

We got checklists from every state and every province (let’s hear it for Northwest Territories and their 95 Willow Ptarmigans!).  Eastern birds, from cardinals to Blue Jays and Tufted Titmice, crept into the Top Ten more often than western birds. Still, none of those species showed anything like the numbers of Snow Geese, with more than 1.3 million counted, or Common Grackle, which was just 508 birds shy of a million.

Northeastern states submitted the most checklists, with Pennsylvania edging out New York (by 52) for the top spot at 5,509. California showed up at number 4 to represent the western U.S.

It’s a different story for the top ten list of most species: California and Texas tied for No. 1. At 336 these states were head and shoulders above everyone else, even sunny Florida at 279. British Columbia put Canada on this top ten list at 195.

Finally, a congratulations to Mentor, Ohio, for taking top honors in localities with the most checklists. The town of 50,000 scored more than half again as many checklists as runner-up cities like Charlotte, Tallahassee, Cincinnati, Richmond, and Atlanta.

Explore more top ten lists here, look up state and province tallies, use our map tool to study results for individual species over any of the years in our records, or read stories submitted by participants. And don’t forget to check out entries in our photo contest and watch videos uploaded from the count.

We had a great time at this year’s GBBC, and we hope you did too. Based on a survey many of you took, it seems like this was the first year counting for 40 percent of participants, and 98 percent plan to do it again next year. We hope you’ll spread the word and vault us into six-digit participation in 2010. Thanks.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library