If watching the birds is something that delights you won’t want to miss The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This worldwide event takes place from Feb. 15 to 18, 2019. Whether you’re a beginner or expert birder, participation is easy - just count all the birds you see for at least 15 minutes during one or more days of the event. This can be done on a walk, while staying in one place (such as waiting for the school bus with the kids), or you can even stay indoors and keep track of the birds that land on your feeder.

Supported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count takes place just before the first stirrings of spring migration. Scientists use the data that volunteers collect to help them track and understand trends in bird populations and what might be influencing these. So if you decide to stay out for longer than 15 minutes, or squeeze in multiple sessions over the four days, all the better!

For the 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count, volunteers from all seven continents submitted more than 180,000 checklists with 28 million individual birds counted. (The estimated global population of birds is between 200 billion to 400 billion.)

These tips will get you on your way to participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count.

  • Use your smartphone: The easiest way to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is to download the eBird app, which is free, and create an account. Using the app makes it easy to log birds as you see them — while also capturing the date, time and location. Another handy app to have for the Great Backyard Bird Count is the Merlin Bird ID. It has an intuitive format that makes it easy to grab an ID of an unfamiliar species.
  • Connect with the bird community: An active Audubon Chapter in your region can turn the Great Backyard Bird Count into a shared experience. Go online and search for a bird-finding session scheduled in a local park or nature preserve. Birders love to share stories and knowledge, so you should come home with new knowledge and a new appreciation for the birds in your neighborhood.
  • Follow the bird crowd: Hop on Twitter and follow people and bird organizations that are actively tweeting about bird sightings during the Great Backyard Bird Count. Post photos of your sightings and tag these users. They may reward you with a share or assist with a tricky bird ID.
  • Roll out the welcome mat: To draw out as many songbird species as possible, make sure your feeders are topped off with fresh food. Lyric Supreme Wild Bird Mix has ingredients like sunflower seeds, nuts, cracked corn and Nyjer so you can appeal to a wide variety of birds.
  • To learn more, visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website at gbbc.birdcount.org.