Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Backyard Bird Count results: Lots of birds

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The 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) results are in and it was a record-breaking year for participation.

During the four-day event in February, more than 97,200 bird checklists were submitted by an estimated 63,000 volunteer bird watchers from across the United States and Canada.

The GBBC is a joint project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

The GBBC It is open to bird watchers of all ages and its results provide a snapshot of the whereabouts of more than 600 bird species in North America. “There’s simply no better way to collect information about all these birds so quickly across such a large range,” Janis Dickinson, citizen science director at the Cornell Lab, said in a statement released on April 6.

For example, this year, participants recorded more American Robins than any other bird species, primarily because of a massive roost of 1.4 million robins in St. Petersburg, Fla. Put that in perspective: the entire rest of the continent tallied only 400,321 robins. Reports such as these help document hotspots for robins and year-to-year changes in their movements across the continent.

At the other extreme, one of the most dramatic results from this year’s count was the absence of other bird species, including winter finches such as Pine Siskins and redpolls. Last year Pine Siskins moved south in such great numbers that they burst onto the GBBC Top-10 list of most numerous birds for the first time ever.

Over time, the GBBC has captured dramatic swings in the numbers of these species reported from year to year, fluctuations which may be influenced by the birds’ food supply and reproductive success far to the north. This year, the siskins presumably didn’t need to travel as far south to find food.

Results from this year’s GBBC also documented the continuing expansion of an introduced species across the continent. A dozen years ago, the Eurasian Collared-Dove was reported in 9 states during the GBBC. This year more than 14,000 doves were reported in 39 states and provinces.

Meanwhile, said Robert Petty, western director of field support at Audubon's Education and Centers, the “new and unusual are always a thrill during the GBBC. Notable sightings this year included a Crimson-collared Grosbeak in McAllen, Texas, the first time the species has been reported during the count since 2005.”

“GBBC data become more and more valuable with each passing year,” said Dick Cannings, program director for Bird Studies Canada. “Over time we’ll be better able to see significant changes that may occur in the numbers and distributions of birds which may be tied to climate change, habitat loss, disease, or other factors.”

The next Great Backyard Bird Count is February 18-21, 2011.

The GBBC is sponsored in part by Wild Birds Unlimited

Top 10 birds reported on the most checklists in the 2010 GBBC: (1) Northern Cardinal; (2) Dark-eyed Junco; (3) Mourning Dove; (4) Downy Woodpecker; (5) Blue Jay; (6) American Goldfinch; (7) Tufted Titmouse; (8) House Finch; (9) American Crow; (10) Black-capped Chickadee.

Visit the “Explore the Results” pages on the GBBC web site at


Posted 4/8/2010




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