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New York, NY, Ithaca, NY, and Port Rowan, ON—Fun for one becomes multiplied when birders join forces for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Participating with friends, family, or a community group means there are more eyes to spot the birds and a deeper well of knowledge to draw from. Knowing where birds are seen—and not seen—is more important than ever during this El Niño year, and as climate change weather fluctuations influence bird movements. The 27th annual Great Backyard Bird Count is taking place February 16 through 19, 2024. More than an estimated half-million people participated during the 2023 GBBC. They reported more than 7,500 species of birds from 200+ countries.
“The GBBC gets bigger every year and that’s such a positive thing,” said David Bonter, co-director of the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “It’s well established that time spent in nature is good for us. We also would not be able to track the long-term changes in bird populations without the eyes and ears of all our enthusiastic participants. The world is changing fast, and birds often reflect the impact of environmental change first.”
“Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is an easy and great opportunity to bird with your friends and neighbors,” said Brooke Bateman, senior director of Climate and Community Science at the National Audubon Society. “Birding with others is a great way to share in the love of birds and learn new skills. Nothing matches the spark of joy in a new birder’s face when they identify their first bird. We invite everyone from all across the globe to make this a tradition with friends and family.”
Birds have been in the news a lot during the past year. Flamingos up in Wyoming. First-ever sightings of a Red-flanked Bluetail in New Jersey, and a Cattle Tyrant in Texas, among others. Ornithologists speculate the birds may have been blown off course by increasingly fierce storms. The weather will also be influenced this year by the El Niño phenomenon. “Strong El Niño conditions this year could bring surprises to the 2024 Great Backyard Bird Count,” said Patrick Nadeau, President and CEO of Birds Canada. “Temperatures are likely to be warmer which could have an effect on the timing of spring migration and influence food availability. There may be more sightings of unusual visitors wherever you’re looking for birds.” To take part in the 2024 GBBC, each participant or group counts birds for any length of time (but for at least 15 minutes) and enters the birds they could identify at each site they visited. That could be their backyard, but it could also be a park, a wilderness area, apartment balcony, or a neighborhood street. First-timers should make it a point to read complete instructions on the GBBC website where they will also find helpful birding tips and birding app downloads. The GBBC website also features a new map for marking local GBBC community events. Birders can join up to help celebrate birds in their hometown. https://www.birdcount.org/community-map/
You’re also invited to tune in to a special webinar about how to participate in the GBBC being held Thursday February 13 at 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It’s free. The webinar will include a representative from Riverland Audubon Center in Missouri and an educator who will provide suggestions for GBBC-related activities. Register: https://bit.ly/47zPdlU.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada and is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
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Editors: Download images to use with GBBC stories. The use of this material is protected by copyright. Use is permitted only within stories about the content of this release. Redistribution or any other use is prohibited without express written permission of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or the copyright owner. Download social media graphics. Media Contacts:
• Nicolas Gonzalez, National Audubon Society, (310) 897-9836, [email protected]• Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137, [email protected] • Kerrie Wilcox, Birds Canada, (519) 586-3531 ext. 134, [email protected]