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By Pat Leonard
  • Lab of Ornithology
  • Animals
In a study published in September, a Cornell-led team of scientists revealed a decline of more than one in four birds in the United States and Canada since 1970 – a total of 3 billion birds gone.

Given this staggering decline in North America’s avian population, there is no better time than now to help scientists track bird populations – by taking part in the 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), Feb. 14-17. The event is co-sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.

“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” said Marshall Iliff, project leader of the Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program, which collects the GBBC data. “Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”

In the 2019 count, bird-watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 210,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,850 species – more than half the known bird species in the world. Bird-count data becomes more and more valuable over time because it highlights trends over many years.

“At times, we can feel like there’s little we can do on environmental issues,” says Steven Price, president of Birds Canada, a GBBC partner. “The Great Backyard Bird Count gives all bird enthusiasts a chance to help.”

Visit birdcount.org for more information.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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