The 19th edition of the Great Backyard Bird Count kicks off on Friday, as birders around the world head record various sightings and report them back to count organizers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As exciting as these counts already can be, this year’s count is expected to be a little bit special.
In western North America, the waters of the Pacific are at their warmest historical temperatures as we experience the second El Niño weather phenomenon of the last 20 years. The last time this weather event took place was back in February of 1998, the same year the Great Backyard Bird Count was established.
“We’ve seen huge storms in western North America plus an unusually mild and snow-free winter in much of the Northeast,” Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham stated. “And we’re seeing birds showing up in unusual places, such as a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota, as well as unseasonal records like Orchard Oriole and Chestnut-sided Warbler in the Northeast. We’re curious to see what other odd sightings might be recorded by volunteers during this year’s count.”