By: Follow South Jersey Staff
SOUTH JERSEY — For four days each February, birdwatchers across the globe are encouraged to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). From February 17 through 20, bird lovers are asked to count as many birds as they can see and report their observations to help scientists better understand global bird populations.
Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, GBBC was the first online citizen-science project (also referred to community science) to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real time. In 2013, the GBBC became a global project when they began entering data into eBird, the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project.
According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey is home to over 450 species of birds and many of them found in South Jersey. Camden County recently installed bird-friendly glass on all of the windows in their new sustainability center in Gloucester Township.
According to the National Audubon Society, birds are important because they keep systems in balance: they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, scavenge carcasses and recycle nutrients back into the earth. But they also feed our spirits, marking for us the passage of the seasons, moving us to create art and poetry, inspiring us to flight and reminding us that we are not only on, but of, this earth.
How to Participate
Participating is easy, fun to do alone or with others, and can be done anywhere birds are found.
Step 1: Decide where you will watch birds.
Step 2: Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 17-20, 2023.
Step 3: Identify all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings:
- If you are a beginning bird admirer and new to bird identification, try using the Merlin Bird ID app to tell us what birds you are seeing or hearing.
- If you have participated in the count before and want to record numbers of birds, try the eBird Mobile app or enter your bird list on the eBird website (desktop/laptop).
Three Ways to Enter Data: Options and Step-by-Step Instructions
- Merlin Bird ID
If you are NEW to bird watching and bird identification and have a smartphone, we recommend you use the Merlin Bird ID app to enter your first bird.It is FREE and easy to use.
- eBird Mobile
If you are already using eBird to track your birding activity or an experienced bird watcher, the FREE eBird Mobile app is a fast way to enter your bird lists right from the palm of your hand.
- Desktop or Laptop
If you prefer to enter your sightings on a computer, perhaps after making a list while on a hike or watching your feeders, we’ll walk you through how.
“The GBBC became the focal point of my day, and the birds were so familiar that I became worried when I hadn’t seen a particular Red-breasted Nuthatch that always comes to call at our feeder,” a GBBC participant said. “Happily, he arrived just as I was finishing my count.”
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