Red-breasted nuthatch
(Photo by Karen E. Brown)
The Great Backyard Bird Count returns for its 22nd year this coming weekend, Feb. 14-17. Count birds anywhere in the world, and help scientists get a snapshot of global bird populations. Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists at birdcount.org. In 2019, an estimated 225,000 people counted some 6,850 species.

The count is sponsored by the ornithology lab at New York state's Cornell University, the National Audubon Society and Birds Canada. ""are important because they're excellent indicators of the health of our ecosystems," Audubon scientist Chad Wilsey says in a news release. "Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the easiest and best ways to help scientists understand how our changing climate may be affecting the world’s birdlife. All over the world people are paying more attention to our environment and how it's changing. There’s a lot of bad news out there, but in just 15 minutes you can be part of a global solution to the crises birds and people are facing."

The sponsors say counting birds has become more important. They note that scientists recently reported a decline of more than one in four breeding birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970. "In addition to these steep declines, Audubon scientists projected a grim future for birds in Survival By Degrees, a report showing nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species could disappear due to climate change. Birds from around the world are facing similar challenges and declines," the Great Backyard Bird Count website says. To sign up, click here.