Downy Woodpecker

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count?

Every February, an event occurs in the birding world that is open to everyone across the globe: The Great Backyard Bird Count.  The Great Backyard Bird Count aims to collect data on bird populations before their annual spring migration, and the organizations behind the count need your help! Here is everything you need to know about this massive event and how you can join in on the fun. 

History of the Great Backyard Bird Count

In 1998, an initiative was created by the Cornell lab of Ornithology in conjuncture with the National Audubon Society to try and gather data on birds. The idea was for citizens to aid in data collection to get as much information as possible, and The Great Backyard Bird Count was born.

The GBBC as its abbreviated, was the first online community science project to focus on wild birds and actually show results as they came in, making it highly interactive and appealing to participants. 

In 2009, Birds Canada joined the other two organizations and in 2013 the great backyard bird count went global as eBird started being used to tally results.

Over the years the GBBC has grown with over 300,000 people participating and over 6,000 species being tallied on an annual basis.

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count?

Why is the Great Backyard Bird Count Important?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is important for a few different reasons. First, the data gathered by participants is used to analyze trends in bird populations and gain a better understanding of which species may be in need of help. Additionally, the data can also be compared with past years to see a clearer picture of what populations may be like in the future. Overall, there are a lot of ways the data ends up getting used, and it can help scientists see potential problems for birds before they progress to far to be fixed.

When is the Great Backyard Bird Count?

The dates of the Great Backyard Bird Count vary depending on the year. In 2022 the Count took place from February 18th to February 21st.

How do You do a Bird Count?

To join in the count, find a window of 15 minutes or more during the four day window to look for birds either out in the wild or in your back yard. Tally the birds that you see and submit them with either eBird or Merlin. 

You can enter the bird reports as an individual or as a group by sending your data to a single person in your group and having them submit all of the sightings together. To do this, the eBird trip reports feature could be a good option. 

How to use the eBird Trip Reports feature

In addition to the birding and tallying, there are some other ways to get involved too. By adding photos of the birds you see to your eBird checklists you can enter them into the Macauley library, a photo data base connected to eBird. You may even be lucky enough to have your photos featured.  Additionally, you can send in photos of people in your group birding to share your experiences during the count. Last but not least, you can also keep track of the lists coming through by way of the live map.

Who Sponsors the Great Backyard Bird Count?

Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and primary sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count.


The Great Backyard Bird Count is a fun and easy way to participate in a global initiative to collect data on birds. Anyone and everyone can do it from beginners, to feeder watchers, to advanced birders. The information collected provides a clearer picture of bird populations accross the globe and each person is important in making the information as accurate as possible. So go out, and have fun during the Great Backyard Bird Count. And as always, thanks for reading, we’ll see you next time, on Badgerland Birding.

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