Contact: Pat Leonard Erica Barton
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Audubon
(607) 254-2137 (212) 979-3197 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
New York, NY & Ithaca, NY, November 2006-What mid-winter activity is fun, easy, free, and helps bird conservation? What can parents and teachers do with children that connects them to a whole new world of natural wonders? This February, the tenth annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, will give everyone a chance to discover the birds in their neighborhood and “Count for the Record.”
“Before the count, I never bothered to tell one sparrow from the next,” said Lori Bailey, a GBBC participant from La Crosse, Wisconsin. “But I took a picture of something taking shelter in a tree, enlarged it in Photoshop, and was actually able to tell what kind of sparrow it was. It was kind of fun playing detective. In short, the bird count had adventure, mystery, and the unexpected.”
During February 16–19, 2007, people of all ages, from beginners to experts, are invited to join this event which spans all of the United States and Canada. Participants can take part wherever they are – at home, in schoolyards, at local parks or wildlife refuges. Observers simply count the highest number of each species they see during an outing or a sitting, and enter their tally on the Great Backyard Bird Count web site at www.birdsource.org/gbbc.
Visitors to the web site can also compare their sightings with results from other participants, as checklists pour in from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Together, these counts offer a real-time snapshot of the numbers and kinds of birds that people are finding, from Boreal Chickadees in Alaska to Anhingas in Florida.
“The Great Backyard Bird Count is a community celebration of birds, birding, and nature,” said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “We often fail to notice how rich our surroundings are, but counting birds, even for just 15 minutes, is not only educationalit can provide a lasting source of enjoyment, turning a daily walk into a treasure hunt.”
“We are encouraging people to go outside and count birds for the first time this year,” said Paul Green, Audubon’s director of Citizen Science. “By submitting their counts online, birdwatchers can quickly see how the dots they put on the map form new patterns that tell new stories about the birds that share the world in which we live, including our own backyards and parks.”
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the GBBC, and Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are challenging people everywhere to “Count for the Record,” by participating in greater numbers than ever before. Greater participation, with more checklists submitted, provides more information about bird population trends – and helps to better inform conservation efforts.
Last year, participants submitted more than 60,000 checklists – and reported 7.5 million birds overall and 623 different species. The count helped chronicle the early spring migratory routes of Sandhill Cranes, documented lingering migrants such as Orange-crowned Warblers and Tree Swallows, revealed the ongoing range expansion of introduced Eurasian Collared-Doves, and recorded declining numbers of American Crows.
Participants who want to hone their bird watching skills can learn more from the Great Backyard Bird Count web site, which offers identification tips and access to photos, sounds, maps, and natural history information on more than 500 bird species. People can also submit photos to an online gallery showcasing the dazzling array of winter birds found during the GBBC. Competitions add another element of fun, including a photo contest, rankings for most numerous birds, and the coveted “checklist champ” title for towns, states, and provinces with the highest participation.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a free event, sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited. For more information, visit www.birdsource.org/gbbc.
Media: Visit the Great Backyard Bird Count’s press room at www.birdsource.org/gbbc for publishable photographs, last year’s top-10 lists, contest winners, and results from your town. Please inquire if you would like to interview a local participant.
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.
Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat
that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and
chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas
sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and
backgrounds in conservation.