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All around the world, people are helping birds by counting them for science.

For release: January 30, 2020

New York, NY, Ithaca, NY, and Port Rowan, ON—Show the wild birds some love by taking part in the 23rd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This year’s count begins on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, and continues through Monday, February 17. Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.

There is no better time to get involved because we are facing a bird emergency. In a study published by the journal Science last fall, scientists revealed a decline of more than one in four birds in the United States and Canada since 1970—3 billion birds gone. In addition to these steep declines, Audubon scientists projected a grim future for birds in Survival By Degrees, a report showing nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species could disappear due to climate change. Birds from around the world are facing similar challenges and declines. Counting birds for science is one simple action that individuals can take to protect birds and the places where they live.

“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program which collects the GBBC data. “Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”

With more than 10,000 species in the world, it means all hands on deck to monitor birds found in backyards and neighborhoods as well as in suburban parks, wild areas, and cities.


Hoary Redpoll Photo: Jean Aubé, La Sarre, QC, 2019 GBBC

“Birds are important because they’re excellent indicators of the health of our ecosystems. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the easiest and best ways to help scientists understand how our changing climate may be affecting the world’s birdlife,” says Chad Wilsey, interim Chief Scientist for National Audubon Society. “All over the world people are paying more attention to our environment and how it’s changing. There’s a lot of bad news out there, but in just 15 minutes you can be part of a global solution to the crises birds and people are facing.”

During the 2019 GBBC, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 210,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6850 species–more than half the known bird species in the world. Bird count data become more and more valuable over time because they highlight trends over many years, apart from the normal short-term fluctuations in bird populations.

“At times, we can feel like there’s little we can do on environmental issues,” says Steven Price, president of Birds Canada. “The Great Backyard Bird Count gives all bird enthusiasts a chance to help, as well as a great opportunity to include family and friends of all skill levels in a common conservation effort. Go out, have fun, and take heart that you are helping birds and nature!”

To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Birds Canada and is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.


Caspian Tern Photo: Sharon Milligan, Mississippi, 2019 GBBC

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Editors: See the winners of the 2019 GBBC Photo Contest. If you find a winner from your coverage area, please let us know if you would like a copy of the image for web or print (if high resolution is available). Download images shown in this news release.
Other bird images available in the GBBC newsroom.

Contacts:
• Kerrie Wilcox, Birds Canada, (519) 586-3531 ext. 134, kwilcox@birdscanada.org

• Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137, pel27@cornell.edu

• Nicolas Gonzalez, Audubon, (212) 979-3068, nicolas.gonzalez@audubon.org

About Birds Canada

Birds Canada, formerly known as Bird Studies Canada, is Canada’s leading national charitable organization dedicated to bird science and conservation. Birds Canada operates scientific programs in all 13 Canadian provinces and territories as well as international research programs. Nearly 60,000 Citizen Science volunteers support the work of Birds Canada annually. Learn more at birdscanada.org.

About the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at birds.cornell.edu.

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at Audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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