February 14-17 (Friday to Monday) is the 17th 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. If you aren’t already excited about this weekend, this story gives some reasons why we think you should be. Working as a team, can we find 50% of the birds in the world on this single weekend?
Join the global team!
Team eBird thinks of the GBBC as the Great Global Bird Count. 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 meet these challenges, what we really need is to get more people involved. Do you have a birding friend in another country? Get in touch, and ask her or him to join the Great (Global) 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 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!
Take someone birding!
Take a non-birding friend with you this weekend and show them why you love birding and eBirding so much. We believe strongly in the power of birders to affect wise conservation outcomes and in the power of birds to connect people to the environment around them. If each of us engages someone new in birding each year, we can truly grow a global network of people to better understand, protect, and care about birds and the ecosystem that connects us to them.
The past year in eBird
Thanks to a commitment from all of you who submit data, as well as your excitement to get your friends involved, eBird has been growing at about 40% a year for the last 8 years. This growth has also benefited from the repeated demonstrations of the power of eBird data—from scientific papers to powerful conservation actions. The eBird vision to connect birders, scientists, and the conservation community to better understand and protect birds is being realized every day. Our network of partners has been integral to eBird’s success and in 2013 we saw growth in nearly every country in the world. We are grateful to our dozens of partners who have worked tirelessly to promote, improve, and review data for eBird. This year, we’d like to welcome our new partners to the team and we encourage you to join us in watching the results from these areas during this year’s GBBC:
How to follow the GBBC stats this weekend
In order to see how well our global team is doing this weekend, we invite you to check out the newly redesigned GBBC home page. Although tailored for the GBBC, this page has most of the same functionality as eBird. 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 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:
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 ebird.org to explore February 2013 patterns and compare them to February 2014 patterns. Try this for eBird range maps for any species. For example, Snowy Owl in February 2013 is very different from February 2014; both maps include GBBC data. White-winged Crossbill is another one with stark differences in February 2013 vs. February 2014. Use this same method to explore other species of interest during this year’s count. Here are some other interesting stats from 2013 to measure against this year’s event: http://gbbc.birdcount.org/2013-gbbc-lists-by-country/
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; last year our best hour was 5pm on Sunday night when a whopping 2937 checklists were submitted. Please enjoy this year’s GBBC and thanks for your role on the global eBird team!