Backyard bird count goes global
Count birds starting next Friday to help science
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 09, 2013 06:00 am
Birders the world over will be counting chickadees next week as part of an annual effort to track birds in the winter.
The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count kicks off next Friday. Organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the event asks birders to spend 15 minutes counting all the birds they can see and to submit their results to an online database.
It’s a way for any birdwatcher to take part in ornithological science, said Dick Cannings, who is co-ordinating the count in Canada through Bird Studies Canada. “You can count birds in your backyard or in your favourite bird place.”
Even Tahiti, he noted. For the first time, the count has been expanded beyond North America to cover the entire globe. Count results will also be more precise, as they will be linked to specific GPS locations instead of postal codes as in past years. All results will be posted live online, with oddball reports being vetted by expert birders.
“It creates a huge amount of data from one weekend of the year,” Cannings said, which should eventually help researchers track bird numbers and movements during winter.
Similar projects, such as the long-running Christmas Bird Count, have already helped governments identify species at risk.
Cannings encouraged birders to register at www.birdcount.ca and to do as many counts as they liked. “All you have to do is count birds for 15 minutes.”
Last year’s count spotted unusual numbers of snowy owls in the U.S. and elevated American coot numbers in Canada.
The count runs from Feb. 15 to 18, with a full report expected in March.