Birdwatchers Encouraged to Take Part in Annual Bird Count

The Santa Monica Mountains are a biodiversity hotspot. Local bird counters need look no farther than their own backyards to participate. This Cooper’s hawk was spotted at a local garden birdbath. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

Every February, people all over the world participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. This citizen science event  is a free, fun, easy, and engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. 

Popular local birdwatching spots include Topanga State Park, and the Malibu Lagoon, but many participants simply count the birds in their own backyard.

Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts.

Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, more than 160,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.

“This count is so fun because anyone can take part—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” says Chad Wilsey, Interim Chief Scientist for the Audubon Society.

“I enjoy discovering the birds that occur in my own back yard and on my block and then comparing with others. Get involved and see how your favorite spot stacks up.”  

The 23rd annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17, 2020. Please visit the official website at for more information and be sure to check out the latest educational and promotional resources.

Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2014 GBBC data highlighted a large irruption of snowy owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes areas of the United States. The data also showed the effects that warm weather patterns have had on bird movement around the country. 

On the program website participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during and after the count. Be sure to check out the Explore a Region tool to get an idea of what you can expect to see in your area during the next GBBC.


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