Great Backyard Bird Count 2021—share your love of birds!

By Team eBird Canada February 10, 2021
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis

The 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is coming soon. Be on the lookout for birds around you February 12-15 (Friday through Monday) and share your love of birds with the world.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Birds Canada.

The GBBC was one of the first online citizen science projects, also referred to as community science, to collect information on wild birds. GBBC was also instrumental in the creation of eBird back in 2002.

To participate, just go birding for at least 15 minutes anytime February 12th – 15th and enter your observations in eBird.

Below are some additional thoughts about this weekend, what it is becoming, and how to get involved.

Share the love

For 2021, the GBBC weekend will focus on the inspirational power of birds. Birds remind us of our connection to the natural world, and to each other. Migratory birds link the continents and their movements highlight how interconnected the world is. Even if you can’t go birding together, GBBC is still an opportunity to share birds with others.

Do you have a friend or family member you think might be interested in birds? GBBC is your chance to spark a new passion. Encourage loved ones to observe the birds around their home during GBBC weekend. They can participate in GBBC by using Merlin Bird ID to identify species from a photo or short description and even start their Life List right from the Merlin app.

Get in touch with friends in other countries and ask them to join the Great Backyard Bird Count, then catch up later to discuss your favorite finds from the weekend. You or your friends may add new data from underrepresented countries or find a unique species that wouldn’t be part of the count otherwise!

Help us take a global snapshot of birds

Unlike other global birding events, GBBC represents a chance to take a 4-day snapshot of bird populations around the world. Everyone who submits an eBird checklist or saves a bird with Merlin Bird ID from Feb 12-15th will be part of the global effort. Help us make the best, most detailed picture possible by following these tips:

Count correctly. A lot of GBBC birding happens in backyards and often at feeders. Be sure to review our article on proper counting protocol at feeders.

Add photos. If you get nice photos during the GBBC weekend, or anytime, be sure to  add your photos to your eBird checklist. This is of course especially important to help document rare birds that you may find. Learn more on how to upload your photos and sounds. We also invite you to share pictures of yourself, family, or friends celebrating the joy of birds during GBBC.

Get eBird Mobile. If you have a smartphone and haven’t done it yet, download the eBird Mobile app and get going on in-the-field data entry this weekend. eBird Mobile makes it much easier to keep up with your observations and help us document all birds everywhere all the time!

How to follow the GBBC

Follow along with the Great Backyard Bird Count on eBird, where you can filter sightings and recent GBBC checklists by region. You can also submit data here or in your favorite eBird portal—it all goes to the same place. Your My eBird stats will be the same here as they would be anywhere in eBird. The key difference is the Explore page. The output here is tailored for the GBBC, so you can see the following:

  • Explore GBBC data by location– Enter any location and see the species list, number of checklists and observers, recent visits, and other information restricted to this year’s count period.
  • GBBC species maps – See where and how often each species is found around the world during GBBC. Zoom in and click on the points to see individual records.
  • Top 100 for GBBC 2021 – Check out the region-by-region contributions of individuals in terms of both number of checklists and number of species reported.

Drum up support in your local birding community by sharing a link to these statistics on your blog, Facebook page, listserv, or your favorite social media of choice.

And make sure to check in with the eBird Live Submissions Map this weekend. The hottest times to watch this map are likely to be 4-9 pm (Eastern Standard Time or GMT -5) on Sunday and Monday. Our best hour may be 5 pm (EST) on Sunday night when 3000+ checklists are usually submitted.

Have a great time at this year’s GBBC and thank you for being a part of the global eBird team!