It’s that very special time of the year again, and while we are all undoubtedly feeling the love today, make sure you do the same for our beloved birds this coming weekend.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) officially kicks off this Friday, February 17th and runs until Monday, February 20th as birders from around the world fill out checklists, get some fresh air and contribute to the citizen-backed science of birding.

“This count is so fun because anyone can take part —we all learn and watch birds together—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher. I like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up.”  -Gary Langham, Chief Scientist,


History of the GBBC

Officially launched in 1998, the GBBC was originally administrated through a partnership between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.  Marking the first online bird count, the GBBC truly changed the way not only we compile data from birds, but how researchers are able to analyze that data and display their findings in near real-time results.

Given that bird populations are so dynamic, counts such as the GBBC are invaluable to the study of our avian friends, and the data, findings, and programming put in place because of the count help scientists better understand and protect our birds.  In 2013, the count merged with eBird, making it one of the largest collections of citizen-based bird data centres on the planet.

2016 GBBC Results

Last year over 160,000 people from around the world took part in the GBBC from more than 130 countries.   Of those participating, a total of 5,689 different avian species were sighted and recorded in eBird’s massive database as participants counted an astounding 18,637,974 individual birds across the four-day count.

How to Contribute

If you don’t already have one, you will have to create and register for an account on and commit to counting birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the GBBC.  There is, however, no time limit, as organizers encourage participants to count for as long as they wish during the four-day period.

You will need to submit separate checklists for each day that you participate, each new location or for a repeated location, but on a different day.  Finally, you will then need to upload your data to the GBBC website or by using eBird’s convenient mobile app.


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