Friday, February 13, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count - Go Out & Count Birds!

Can you see the nine band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata) in the eucalyptus tree?

Today, Friday, February 13 marks the first day of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count 2015. All around the world people are out counting the birds in their yards, neighborhoods, parks and wild places. The real world has no fences! The Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean are my backyard!

It's easy and important. When you count and enter your data on-line at you are contributing to science and the world's knowledge of bird populations and migration. How is the snow in Massachusetts impacting birdlife? Will they see fewer birds than the last 18 years of GBBC?

This February day in southern California is going to be in the 80s. Are our winter migratory birds still here or have they left?

white-throated sparrow
This morning in our yard I saw 87 individual birds from 22 species, including this white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) which is somewhat rare for the Los Angeles area. The white-throated sparrow typically is a winter migrant to the south-eastern U.S. Some winters, a few show up here. E-bird and the Great Backyard Bird Count help to track these occurrences. Are more white-throated sparrows spending the winter in southern California? Is their range changing?

How can you participate?  
  • Check out the easy instructions at
  • Count days are Friday thru Monday, Feb. 13, 14, 15, and 16
  • Take a minimum of 15 minutes and go outside wherever you are and count the birds you see, noting their species. (Even gulls in a parking lot count. Don't know what kind of gull it is? That is OK. If you know the basic family group–gull, sparrow, duck–GBBC has a box for basic IDs.)
Pair of spotted towhees and a single mourning dove
How do you count? Take a look at what you see at one time. For example in the photo above: two spotted towhees (Pipilo maculatus) and one mourning dove (Zenaida macroura). Counting in my yard. You don't accumulate the number, you go with the highest number of that species that you see at one time.

I'm going to a neighborhood park today: Serrania Park. My husband will take a few minutes at work to go outside and count. Maybe one of L.A.'s Hidden Gardens is near you. They are a great place to see birds.

Last year people counted more birds than ever. Let's break the record again. Get out there and Count Those Birds!

No comments: