Great Backyard Bird Count 2014


It is that time again. The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up next week, Friday February 14 through Monday the 17. It is a joint project of the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. As many of you know, it is an effort in which amateur birders can help scientists better understand the population dynamics and movements of birds.

Those of you that watch birds have certainly noticed that the abundance and diversity of bird species in and around your homes and feeders during winter can be quite variable. Scientists are trying to get a better understanding of these differences. With our help they can obtain some real-time data on where the birds are each year during four days in February.

You don’t have to be a bird expert, and participating is easy. As their website notes, participating is as easy as 1,2,3! You just count birds in your area for at least 15 minutes for as many of the days as you like. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species you see together at any one time. Then when you’re finished, submit your results.

The Great Backyard Bird Count went international last year, with reports on the location and abundance of over 4,000 species from 111 countries on all seven continents. A few of the interesting results from the count revealed an irruption of winter finches such as redpolls and evening grosbeaks in southern Canada and adjacent states. There was also a noticeable southern movement of red-breasted nuthatches which is thought to be in response to a food shortage in their normal winter range.

Here in North Dakota last year, volunteers submitted checklists from several locations across the state, documenting the abundance of 72 different species ranging from bald and golden eagles to pileated woodpeckers and Eurasian collared doves.

You can check out the Great Backyard Bird Count website at You will find all the information necessary to participate as well as lots of good information on the project and birds in general. So consider participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count this year. Not only will you enjoy some bird watching, but you will also be helping scientists better understand their winter movements of our feathered friends.

Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.



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