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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Getting ready for the big count

I got an email from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology today reminding me that the Great Backyard Bird Count begins in just two days. As if I could forget! I've had my countdown clock going for weeks.

Their email offered a few suggestions for optimizing the count experience.

  • You can go to the website and access a printable tally sheet which will show you which birds would be expected to be seen in your zip code.
  • This might be self-evident, but if you are planning to count birds at your feeders, be sure to fill the feeders in advance.
  • Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged and ready. You can submit your pictures to the website and enter their photography contest.
  • Invite friends and family to count birds in their yards or in some public space. The more data, the better.  
It will be very interesting to see what this winter's count shows. It has, after all, been a relatively mild winter throughout the country and one might expect that spring migrants will be reported farther north than usual this year.
  • American Robins are usually the most frequently reported birds by observers. There have been literally hundreds of them in my yard recently. But will they be reported much farther north than they normally are at this time of year?
  • What about other migratory birds like Eastern Phoebes and geese? What will be the farthest north that they will be seen this year?
  • Cornell says that eBird reports recently have shown fewer Blue Jays in the Northeast than usual. Will the GBBC observers confirm this?
  • Where will the Snowy Owls show up on the count?  
  • And what about hummingbirds? This has been such an unusual season for overwintering hummingbirds. I have two in my own backyard. It will be very interesting to see what other observers in my area - and indeed throughout the country - report. 
This year's count will have a lot to tell us. I can hardly wait!


  1. Sounds exciting. Speaking of the big count... I just saw "The Big Year". My husband & I rented it for V-Day. Hope you had a fantastic Valentine's Day.

    AKA Rambling Wren. I changed my blogger settings and was unable to sign in as Rambling Wren. I guess that is what happens when you have 2 blogs - oops!

    1. Hey, Steph AKA Rambling Wren. My husband and I saw "The Big Year" in the theater when it first came out and enjoyed it tremendously. I had read the book and, in fact, reviewed it on the blog. I'm just sorry that the movie didn't do better than it did in the theaters.

      I hope you are going to be counting along with me this weekend.

  2. I' ready I'm ready. And he feeders are well stocked. We saw the movie as well and enjoyed it thoroughly. In fact, it inspired us to visit Sax-Zim bog in Northern Minnesota where I came away with a "lifer." A Northern Goshawk. :)

  3. Fantastic, troutbirder! I've never seen a Northern Goshawk. Maybe I should visit Sax-Zim, too.

    Good luck with your count this weekend. I'll be blogging about mine, of course. Send me a comment and let me know how you are doing.

  4. I'm ready to count, and looking forward to it!

    1. Great, Jayne! Let us know how your count goes. Right now, it looks like the first couple of days are going to be wet ones, not the best conditions for counting but perhaps things will improve.