Great Backyard Bird Count Supports Nature-Based Learning
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Native species are nature-based resources accessible to everyone, especially birds! Because they are so accessible, of all native animal species active during the winter, they are perhaps the most easily spotted in the snowy landscape of New England. Our fine feathered friends flock to feeders, leave tracks in fresh snow, and flit around in trees and bushes of backyards everywhere. And they are super delightful for supporting nature-based learning!
Let your interests in ornithology, local habitat, conservation, and citizen science take flight this year by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count!
Great Backyard Bird Count
An annual event since 1998, the Great Backyard Bird Count brings together over 100,000 citizen scientists from all over the globe to collect data on over a third of the world’s bird species. Each February, for four days, the bird count requires participants to watch for birds and track the species and number of each species that they see.
How to Participate
Though the event takes place over four days, it’s not necessary to track backyard birds for the full four days. Families can participate with as little as fifteen minutes of free time! All you need is some basic information about common species found in your area and something to take notes with, and you’re off! It’s always a great idea to have a field guide on hand to help identify bird species, and binoculars can offer a close-up look at elusive feathered friends.
Once you’ve spent at least fifteen minutes observing birds, upload your data to the Great Backyard Bird Count. Participating in citizen science projects is an intergenerational way to engage with science in a meaningful way. As citizen scientists, participants are not only helping to support research and population studies, but they’re applying basic science skills of their own, including data collection, species identification, map skills, and possibly data interpretation.
Allowing children the chance to apply their own knowledge to real-life situations makes their learning relevant to where they live, within the cycles of the seasons. Citizen science provides context for a variety of skills and information that they’ll gain through participation.
In addition to field guides and birding apps, families can continue to supplement an interest in ornithology with these citizen science opportunities: