Be a citizen scientist: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 15-18

American Goldfinch spotted in Los Angeles as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count and photo contest.

Pamela Wertz

Every year, tens of thousands participate in one of the most popular citizen scientist activities: the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

This year marks the 16th - and the first time the event will be worldwide.

From Feb. 15-18, anyone on the planet can report the birds that they see.

To participate, you just have to: 

  • identify the species of the birds you see

  • estimate the number of birds you see

  • log the information on a data form

  • watch for birds for anytime from 15 minutes to the full three-day duration and from anywhere - your own backyard, a neighborhood park, or a wild place near you.

Data from the project helps biologists, ecologists and other scientists better understand bird populations, including migrations and climate change impacts. 

Ideas for where to look for birds

  • Some of the best places to spot migrating birds are at America's National Wildlife Refuges, many of which are within an hour’s drive from major metropolitan areas.
  • You may also want to join an event in your area to learn more about local species or make a bird feeder for your home. 

“The GBBC is an ideal opportunity for young and old to connect with nature by discovering birds and to participate in a huge science project,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist.

"This year, we hope people on all seven continents, oceans, and islands, will head out into their neighborhoods, rural areas, parks, and wilderness to further our understanding of birds across the hemispheres, Langham said.

More than 600 bird species have been reported on this day in the past, across North America by birdwatchers of all ages and backgrounds. Last year,17.4 million bird observations were reported by participants. This year you could contribute to the millions while enjoying time spent outdoors - maybe even in wilderness.


Common Birds Poster 2013-02-04 offered by for bird counters:


See also:


Second photo credit: Blue Jay spotted and photographed in Arizona in 2012 by Linda Pizer.