Great Backyard Bird Count 2020—take someone birding!

By Team eBird February 12, 2020
Himalayan Black-lored Tit Machlolophus xanthogenys

February 14-17 (Friday through Monday) is the 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). To participate, just go birding during this timeframe and make sure to enter your checklists in eBird. The GBBC was one of the first demonstrations that the internet could be used to collect bird checklists and was instrumental in the creation of eBird back in 2002. For 2020, we really want the GBBC weekend to focus on sharing your knowledge with others. Do you have a friend or family member who has always wanted to go birding with you? Someone you should teach to use eBird? Someone you think you could turn on to birds and share your sense of wonder with? Make the GBBC the weekend where you pick up the phone and invite him or her along.

If everyone who uses eBird was able to create one new eBirder this weekend, we could double the amount of data in eBird!

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

Take someone birding

Here at eBird and at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we fundamentally believe that birds can save the world. A love of birds connects humanity with the natural world in a way that is all too hard to find in modern society. Even for city-dwellers, parks and green spaces hold birds that remind us about the natural world and keep us connected to it. Migratory birds link the continents and their movements flow across borders in ways that highlight how interconnected the world is. Only by connecting with the natural world, understanding that our actions here may have implications half a world away, and caring about the outcomes, will humanity become better stewards of our planet.

Everyone who enters records in eBird had a moment or person who inspired them to take an interest in birds. The GBBC weekend provides that moment and you can be that person for someone new. If we each got one new person involved with birdwatching each year, the ranks of bird lovers and nature lovers in the world would grow exponentially.

Count correctly

Much GBBC birding occurs in backyards, often watching active bird feeders on cold winter days. Be sure to review our article on proper counting protocol at feeders.

Join the global team!

Team eBird thinks of the GBBC as the Great Global Bird Count. Now in its seventh year as a global effort, let’s see what a global team of birders can do. eBird is now a massive effort to document bird populations around the world over time, but GBBC represents a chance to take a global 4-day snapshot. Everyone who submits a checklist this weekend will be part of the global effort.

Get your friends involved!

To improve on last year’s results, we really need is to get more people involved. Do you have a birding friend in another country? Get in touch, and ask them to join the Great Backyard Bird Count, and see if they can add a unique country or find a unique species. Perhaps you’ve gone on a birding trip internationally. This is a great excuse to get in touch with your guide and encourage him or her to take part. This is a great way to introduce your friends to eBird and hopefully get them hooked!

Add photos

If you get nice photos on the GBBC weekend, or anytime you contribute to eBird, be sure to share those on your eBird checklist. This is of course especially important to help document rare birds that you may find. See this article for how to upload your photos and sounds.

Get eBird Mobile

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

How to follow the GBBC stats this weekend

In order to see how well our global team is doing this weekend, check out the GBBC home page. You can 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 Data page. The output here is tailored for the GBBC, so you can see the following:

  • Location pages for GBBC 2020 – Enter any location and see the species list, birding activity, recent visits and other information restricted to the count period. Be sure to use eBird to explore this for other periods as well!
  • Range Maps for GBBC 2020 – See where and how often each species is found around the world. Zoom in and click on the points to see individual records.
  • Top 100 for GBBC 2020 – Check out the region-by-region contributions of individuals in terms of both number of checklists and number of species reported.

Any one of these outputs can be posted as a link. Drum up support in your local birding community by posting these statistics on your blog, Facebook page, listserv, or your favorite social media of choice. If you want to compare results, we encourage you to use to explore February 2020 patterns and compare them to February 2019 patterns.

And make sure to check in with the eBird Live Submissions Map this weekend. This is awesome enough now, but we know it will really get hot this weekend. The hottest times to watch this map are likely to be 4-9pm (Eastern Standard Time or GMT -5) on Sunday and Monday; our best hour is usually 5pm (EST) on Sunday night when 3000+ checklists are usually submitted. Please enjoy this year’s GBBC and thanks for your role on the global eBird team!