A pair of Cedar Waxings. Photo courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited of Little Rock.

A pair of Cedar Waxings. Photo courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited of Little Rock.

(GBBC News Release) Bird watchers across the U.S. and Canada are getting ready to tally millions of birds in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. The annual count will be held Feb. 14-17.

Anyone, anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at BirdCount.org. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.

In North America, GBBC participants will add their data to help define the magnitude of a dramatic irruption of magnificent Snowy Owls. Bird watchers will also be on the lookout for the invasive Eurasian Collared-Dove to see if it has expanded its range again. GBBC observations may help show whether or not numbers of American Crows will continue to rebound after being hit hard by the West Nile virus and whether more insect-eating species are showing up in new areas, possibly because of changing climate.

Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time, thanks to integration with the eBird online checklist program launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab and Audubon. Participants reported their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded—nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and make a difference for birds. It’s free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count, enter the photo contest get started page. You can view the 2013 winning photos on the 2013 photo winners page.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.