According to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) website, bird watchers from 103 countries made history in the first global GBBC last month on February 15–18. In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird watchers set new records, counting 34,512,432 birds on 134,935 checklists in four days—and recording 3,610 species, nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species.
The GBBC is an annual event where everyday people tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during the count period. These numbers are then recorded on the GBBC website and added to the global data. This data is important because scientists use it to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer this data is collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions.
North Carolina came in 7th on the most checklists submitted – 5,425 total! That’s just behind huge states like California, Texas and Florida. During the count, Nick Bonomo in Pocosin Lakes NWR–Pungo Unit saw 12,000 Tundra Swans earning him the highest count in the state.
The GBBC has been around in the United States and Canada for the past 15 years thanks to the support of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada. This year’s global count was powered by eBird, a website that enables people to report birds globally in real-time and explore the results online.
According to the GBBC website, here are some other key findings:
Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch
Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot
Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy’s landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.
GBBC First: A Red-flanked Bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported for the GBBC’s first record ever. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird watchers from all over the U.S. and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia; the other GBBC report of this species this year was from Japan.
Explore all kinds of cool data, maps and findings on the GBBC website – http://ebird.org/ebird/gbbc/eBirdReports.
Release produced by North Carolina Audubon.