The Great Backyard Bird Count will be launched on Friday, February 12, and citizen scientists are more than welcome to participate, in order to make a small, but important contribution to modern-day ornithology.
The event is organized by the National Audubon Society, in conjunction with Bird Studies Canada, and the Ornithology Lab at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.
The first edition of the Great Backyard Bird Count was held in 1998, and ever since that year the initiative has been growing in popularity.
For example, last year, between February 13 and February 16, bird watchers from more than 100 nations sent out 147,265 bird sighting reports, setting a new record for the number of avian species that were spotted.
More precisely, 5,090 types of birds were encountered by the citizen scientists, which means that almost half the world’s species were documented during the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count.
Among them were the Santa Marta screech-owl (Megascops gilesi) and the Millpo tapaculo (Scytalopus Millpo), which had never been presented in a scientific journal before.
Event organizers are now hoping that this 19th edition of the avian tally will yield even better results, allowing researchers not just to identify bird population trends more easily, but also to discover potential changes regarding the distribution and behavior of various avian species, triggered by global warming and other factors such as this year’s potent El Niño.
Last year bird watchers tracked the presence of a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota, even though the species is non-migratory and considered to be native to south Texas.
Similarly, Chestnut-sided Warblers and Orchard Orioles were discovered in the north-eastern part of the United States, even though the two species are migratory birds, which normally spend their winter further south, in Mexico, central America and northern Colombia.
It remains to be seen what peculiarities will be identified during the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count, which will unfold for 4 days, between February 12 and 15.
As organizers have revealed, all of information that will be submitted by participants on the event’s website will be compiled into an incredibly extensive and comprehensive online database, giving researchers an insight into recent trends occurring almost undetected in the avian world.
Those who are interested to take part in the event must know that their level of engagement in the bird census can be whatever they wish it to be. Bird watching can take place all day long, but it can just as easily happen for about 15 minutes per day, in one’s backyard or in a park.
The important thing is to actively take part in this event, which is one of the longest running citizen science projects across the nation.
Any contribution of this kind can assist ornithologists in singling out bird species that may be at risk of extinction, so that conservation efforts can be initiated, while there’s still time to counter worrisome population trends.
Image Source: Flickr