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It’s that time of year again! The Great Backyard Bird Count begins tomorrow. This is an easy and fun way to participate in “real” science with your students.
Collecting Data with the Great Backyard Bird Count
Every year the Cornell Lab of Ornithology along with a few other sponsors, hosts the Great Backyard Bird Count in February. They are looking for what birds are up to this time of year and they call upon citizens from around the world to collect the data. What can you expect when you visit the site?
- Information on how to get started- including a slide show on the count
- An introduction to eBird which allows you to record bird sightings year round
- Sample bird lists to use for your data collection
- Links to birding apps for your smartphone- We use iBird Pro (for Android) which provides great information on birds along with bird calls.
- Link to an optional data collection sheet
- Help with tricky to identify birds
- A look at data from around the world- I like to pull this out with our kids to go over what is happening around the world. Data analysis!
The count occurs over four days and your job is to tally up the types of birds you see in your yard. Turn in the data according to the instructions, and you’ve done it!
Our Favorite Birding Resources
If you’ve never observed birds before or you are looking to add to your collection, here are a few ideas for you from among our favorites:
- Birds of New York– Oddly specific since many of you don’t live in NY, but this author has written similar guides for other states. See if there is one for yours! He has companion CDs for the books as well.
- iBird Pro– A comprehensive app for both Apple and Android, this is like having an encyclopedia on birds and the bird calls right with you when you are out and about.
- Birds of Prey of the Northeast– great guide from the same author as our NY guide.
- Binoculars– We keep a small, sturdy pair of binoculars in a basket by our window along with field guides. Make sure they are a real pair and not a toy but meant to be used by children. When they see a bird they can’t identify, they can get a closer look.
Winter Nature Studies at Blog, She Wrote
Here are some other winter related nature study ideas with more information on the Great Backyard Bird Count along with bird migration and other studies for the month of February.
Rebecca’s monthly nature calendar journals are proving to be very popular. Enjoy the simple suggestions with a place to record what you find. You don’t have to worry about a lot preparation and when you print out the calendar, you have a ready-made journal.
This Geography Quest on the Great Backyard Bird Count has many suggestions for other resources and gives you an inside look at the count. Part of this quest is to work with the data that you can find that others have collected. Don’t miss the opportunity to add more to your experience with the GBBC.
Have fun getting to know the birds in your area and contributing to scientific studies at the same time!