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Great Backyard Bird Count starts Friday

By Regis Phillips Feb 15, 2024 | 4:00 PM

Nature enthusiasts can help to provide critical information about Canada’s bird population this Family Day weekend.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was created by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithouligist, the National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada.

Now in its 27th year, the event provides critical information to researchers and conservation organizations about bird populations and winter migration habits.

Researchers believe an estimated half a million people participated in the event last year and reported 7,500 species of birds from over 200 countries.

Samantha Knight, Atlantic stewardship manager of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), said this warm winter can provide vital information.

“Right now we are in the middle of a winter where there shouldn’t be much migration going on. This year’s an El Niño year and with climate change, it’s a little bit warmer, so there is a bit of suspicion that actually some birds may be moving a little bit earlier this year than usual,” said Knight.

“This opportunity to count them is actually a chance to see if anything different is happening this year because of that warm weather, but in general at this time of year, birds should be in the same spot.

“We’re counting whatever birds we see here in the winter and then in other parts of the world the different bird species than we would obviously see here in Canada.”

Knight said some birds most Canadians would see when bird watching include different species of chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

“If you are along the coast, we encourage you to go see what birds are out in the open water areas because some birds will migrate here and stay here during the winter, so some birds people might see are common eiders, long-tailed ducks, and there’s a couple of species of mergansers,” Knight continued.

“Also worth mentioning, if you’re in open fields, you might see something exciting like a snowy owl or a rough-legged hawk.”

GBBC officials suggest using the Merlin Bird ID app if you are new to bird watching, however, if you have participated in the bird count before and want to record the number of birds you’ve spotted, they recommend the eBird Mobile app or enter your bird list on the eBird website.

Knight said the bird count can be done from inside your home or outdoors. It can be done the whole weekend or just for 15 minutes.

More details can be found by clicking here.

A common bird you'll see is an American Goldfinch - Image/Submitted: NCC
A common bird you'll see is an Lesser yellowlegs - Image/Submitted: NCC