Birders invited to take part in global bird watching event this weekend –

Birders invited to take part in global bird watching event this weekend –

Birders from around the world will be taking part in a bird watching phenomenon this weekend. The annual Great Backyard Bird Count runs from Friday through Monday. 

Matt Gasner is Assistant Conservation Biologist for Nature Conservancy of Canada. He describes the Great Backyard Bird Count as a global community science effort that allows anyone to make a scientific contribution to our understanding of bird populations, migrations and ranges at this time of year.

Gasner explains that the way it works is bird watchers are asked to volunteer a minimum of 15 minutes of their time over the course of the four days. They must then record the number and type of birds they see or hear from wherever they are located. The submissions help scientists better understand and protect birds around the world. 

“They can be in the city, they can be out in the country, they can be inside their kitchen looking out their window,” notes Gasner. “But for 15 minutes, record any of the bird species you see or hear and enter those online.”

bird 2Common Redpoll (Photo credit: Leta Pezderic)

As mentioned, this is a global initiative and so Gasner says even if you are on vacation, you can record the types of birds you spotted while on holidays. 

2024 marks the 27th year for the Great Backyard Bird Count and Gasner says it is only gaining in popularity. He notes in 2023, more than 7,500 species were reported from over 200 countries around the world. An estimated half a million people participated in the event. 

“The data contributes to the largest biodiversity database in the world,” he says. “It is a large event and helps connect people to nature and it helps provide the information that we need for making conservation decisions.”

Gasner says it helps them understand how birds are responding to potential changes in climate or habitat and how adjusting our activities could benefit all species that are out there. He notes scientists used long term data sets like these to realize that grassland birds in Canada have declined by 40 to 80 per cent over the past 50 years. 

“That’s an alarming decline, alarming loss in population,” he says. “If we use those as a measure as a state of the habitat, we should be concerned.”

He would like to point out that by no means is the Great Backyard Bird Count intended only for experienced birders. 

“This can be for anyone,” says Gasner. “Even if you have absolutely no experience with bird watching, now is the time to be able to make a contribution.”

Gasner notes there are a few free applications for bird watchers to use for submitting their findings. They are:

Merlin Bird ID app 

eBird Mobile app 

eBird on a computer 

Gasner says because we live in Manitoba and it is currently winter, that narrows down considerably the number of species of birds we could potentially spot this weekend. He notes it is really only a few dozen. Gasner says when you use one of the free apps, it will create a list of species you could potentially see, based on your location and the time of year. 


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