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How Many Birds Are in Your Backyard?

By Pat Leonard
Eastern Bluebirds at feeder
Eastern Bluebirds by GBBC participant Frank Ripp of Whispering Pines, North Carolina.

We just want to remind you that the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count starts Friday and runs through Monday the 16th. As you know, both the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society host this event, which has broken participation records for each of the past several years. We hope to do it again!

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In 2008 we took in more than 85,700 bird checklists–compare that to the 11,700 collected in the first year of the GBBC back in 1989. The explosion in Internet use is one big reason for that growth and we’d like to harness its viral nature.

We hope you’ll forward this message to all your friends and family asking them to pass it on–who knows how many people we can reach?!

There are other great reasons for participating, in addition to the information gathered for science about the distribution of birds at this time of year:

  • We take in thousands of images each year for the photo contest and post hundreds of them in the photo gallery–these are really beautiful.
  • For the young birders, we have a kid’s page with games and quizzes to try.
  • Read the GBBC blog and leave a comment
  • Each participant is eligible to win great prizes donated by Audubon, the Lab, Wild Birds Unlimited, and Droll Yankees. (Sorry, staff is not eligible, but your friends are!)
  • You can explore sightings being reported from your state, province, or all over the continent as they come pouring in.

There seems to be quite a buzz going this year about the GBBC. The list of local GBBC events being held at parks, nature centers, zoos, aquariums, refuges and other locations is amazing–the most we’ve ever posted on the web site!

As of this morning, a Google blog search finds 22,606 hits for Great Backyard Bird Count. Here are links to just a few of them:

Birds in Your Backyard

Birding Maine

Green Daily

Birds O’ the Morning

Audubon’s Steve Kress also appeared on the Martha Stewart Show February 6 to talk about bird feeders and gave the GBBC a big plug as well. You can watch the segment here.

So it feels like something big is building and we hope you will not only help spread the word but take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count yourself! Visit

Thank you for all you do for the birds each and every day,

The Great Backyard Bird Count team

UPDATE: As of 3:00 Friday afternoon, we’ve already had more than 1,800 checklists filed! Our combined species tally is 314, and people across the continent have counted a total of 126,343 backyard birds so far! Follow the progress all weekend here.

Go here to sign up for e-newsletters that will keep you up to date on Lab-related events and happenings.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library