Next weekend, February 17-20, is the 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count
, sponsored by the National Audubon Society
, the Cornell Lab for Ornithology
, and Bird Studies Canada
The Count has been an annual event since 1998
. The information collected goes into Cornell's bird database, the Avian Knowledge Network
, which holds 36 million records of bird observations.
The GBBC relies on volunteers across North America
to help them collect information about bird populations. You can do a count
in one place like your backyard, recording the number of species you see in a minimum of 15 minutes, or you can do a traveling count, recording the birds you see as you hike along a trail. If you're unfamiliar with bird identification, WhatBird
is a pretty handy resource, as is Cornell's Bird Guide
In 2011, the most counted bird in America was the European Starling
, an introduced species descended from 60 birds released in Central Park in 1890 by the American Acclimatization Society
and an eccentric pharmacist named Eugene Schiefflin
, who wanted to introduce all of the birds mentioned by Shakespeare to North America.
bird counting isn't just for President's Day Weekend, either. Audubon has the 111-year-old Christmas Bird Count
, Cornell and Bird Studies Canada have the winter-long Project FeederWatch
, and eBird
If birds aren't your thing, Cornell has a list of other citizen science projects
that need your help.
Birds previously on Metafilter: Audubon - Birds of America and This One's for the Birds.