Citizen Science is a wonderful opportunity for non-profit and government organizations to get massive amounts of data while involving the members of the community that are interested in the project itself. The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, recognizing that there are bird lovers all over the country, have several Citizen Science projects throughout the year. Data that comes from tracking and monitoring the migration and behavioral patterns of birds can translate to speak volumes about the environment that we live in. As bio-indicators, bird habits can often be the first indicators of changing trends in our environment such as air/water quality and the effects of our changing climate.
One of the easiest Citizen Science programs for someone to get involved in is the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Started in collaboration between the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 1998, it was the first citizen science project that was available online. Now in its 19th year, the GBBC is an opportunity for novices and experts alike to spend time outside watching for and tracking bird species.
It’s easy to participate, and anyone can do it. Simply visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started/. If you have an account, sign in. If you don’t, register as a new user. Once your account is set up, you are ready start tracking birds at any time! From there, simply follow the next steps listed on the site.
Although you can track birds at any time, the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count is officially held on February 17th -20th. During that time, participants are asked to count birds in one location for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the 4 day GBBC period. You can either keep a list, adding it to the site when you are at a computer, or you can even download the eBird Mobile App and track in real time!
Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve encourages anyone in our community to join us to count birds during this exciting event. Whether you are an avid bird watcher looking for additional locations to participate in the GBBC or if you are wanting to participate for the first time and need a location to do so, we welcome all to participate in this exciting project with us! Simply sign up here for a day and a one hour block. If you choose to sign up for multiple time blocks and/or locations, be sure to keep a separate tally sheet for each time and location.
Binoculars and field guides are available to check out at the Environmental Learning Barn during its open hours. The only time the barn will be open to the public during the GBBC will be Friday February 17th from 10AM-4PM. You may borrow binoculars during that time but they must be returned on the day that they are checked out. Field guides may be borrowed in advance and can be kept out for 30 days.
Be sure to take pictures and share with us via social media and/or email and tag us in your #WPNRGBBC.
By Jean H. Keene