Engage in Your Community as a Citizen Scientists During the Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count
February 14th-17th, 2014

During the winter, birds are perhaps the most easily spotted of all the wildlife roaming the snowy landscape. Our fine feathered friends flock to feeders, leave tracks in fresh snow, and flit around in the trees and bushes of backyards everywhere. Interested in learning more about the birds that share your surroundings? Participate in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count!

An annual event since 1998, the Great Backyard Bird Count brings together over 100,000 citizen scientists (and real scientists) from all over the globe to collect data on over a third of the world’s bird species. Held this year from February 14th-17th, 2014, the bird count requires participants to watch for birds and track the species and number of each species that they see.

Though the event takes place over the course of four days, it’s not necessary to track backyard birds for the full four days. Families can participate with as little as fifteen minutes of free time! All you need is some basic information about common species found in your area and something to take notes with, and you’re off! It’s always a great idea to have a field guide on hand to help with identification, and binoculars can offer a close-up look at elusive feathered friends.

Once you’ve spent at least fifteen minutes outside, upload your data to the Great Backyard Bird Count. (You’ll need to create a username and password.) While you’re online, peruse data from past years’ bird counts and watch as this year’s data is uploaded in almost real time! Families can explore specific locations to see what kinds of birds might be found there – check out a location near your observation spot and see how your data compares!

Participating in citizen science projects is a great way for kids to engage with science in a meaningful way. Not only are they helping to support research and population studies, but they’re applying basic skills of their own (data collection, species identification, map skills, and possibly data interpretation) in order to do so. Allowing kids the ability to apply their own knowledge to real-life situations makes what they’re learning meaningful and provides context for the variety of skills and information that they’ll gain as they grow.

In addition to field guides and birding apps, families can learn more about birds by reading some of these informative children’s books:

More Citizen Science Opportunities:

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