Excitement is building as we make our way through the month of February here in the wonderful world of birding. As we progress through the winter months here in the Ottawa area, sightings of our winter finches and colourful cardinals are everywhere.

As we continue to move toward the spring, our anticipation and focus moved towards the songbirds that will soon fill our mornings and our feeders as warmer weather arrives.

As we await the spring season, winter is a time for some of the most important citizen-backed programs in the birding world. While there are many researchers and biologists out there that do wonderful work for our birds and other wildlife, without the help of millions of global citizens, their jobs would be much more difficult.


With the Christmas Bird Counts behind us, February marks the Great Backyard Bird Count each and every year. Originally launched by the great folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology back in 1998, it was the first online project to collect data on wild birds and display that data in real time.


Running for four days beginning on February 16, 2018, last year’s count included over 29 million individual birds being counted around the world. Taking part in the count is easy and does a world of service to our feathered friends and the natural world around us. If you are thinking of taking part, here are the rules:


The first rule of the Backyard Bird Count has to do with the time commitment. No eight-hour workdays here, the only stipulation is that all participants must participate for at least 15 minutes on one of the four days of the count.

Keep a Journal

This part is also quite important and will also help you in your local birding endeavors. As a participant of the count, you are required to keep track of how long you counter birds for and how far you walked or traveled during your watch.

Separate Your Counts

Multiplying your counts across different days or different hours within one day is a great way to break up the counting process and enjoy more birds. Each count should be separated as such and record your findings for each separate encounter.

While these rough outlines do form somewhat of a rule system, rule number one for this and any other count remains the same; have fun.

The more fun you have, the more birds you count and the more that goes into the research, funding, and protection of our beloved feathered friends.


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