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The Great Backyard Bird Count

Grab your binoculars and get ready to become a citizen scientist with the Great Backyard Bird Count! Each year, more than 160,000 people of all birding levels participate in this worldwide birding event, and we want you to participate too! If you’re unfamiliar with the Great Backyard Bird Count, this event takes place for four days in the month of February. For at least one of the days from February 15-18, for 15 minutes or more, merely count all the birds you see and submit your list to the online birding database, eBird! Not only can eBird track the all the birds that you’ve seen, but you can also explore birds from all over the world or simply find local birding hotspots in your neighborhood. If you’re like me and you’ve caught the birding fever, you are welcome to bird for as many of the days as you’d like by just submitting a separate checklist. You can count birds from wherever you’d like, from your backyard to your local park.

Collecting this type of data gives researchers a real-time snapshot of the distribution and abundance of wild birds. Scientists can compare this yearly data across the board to get the big picture about what is happening to bird populations over time. This is a great way to get involved with native bird conservation and learn about the birds in your backyard and how to look for them!

The best part about the Great backyard Bird Count is that it doesn’t matter whether this is your first time birding or if you’ve been birding seven days a week since the day you were born. But if this is your first time, here are some birding “pro-tips.”

• Size/shape: From the overall size of the bird to the size and shape of the beak, these small differences can be a great help!
• Habitat: Certain species prefer to spend time in different areas based on their natural history.
• Behavior: The slightest flick of a tail can help you narrow down what family the bird you are observing belongs to.
• Color patterns: These can be tricky as some birds change color throughout; however, this can also be extremely helpful in determining what you’re looking at.
• Time of day: Peak bird activity is early in the morning and just as the sun is setting.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Great Backyard Bird Count and how you can participate, visit

You never know what species you’ll find in just as little as 15 minutes. So go on, get out there, and start your birding.
Kelsey Kriesch
Keeper I, Birds

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl