US Great Backyard Bird Count Sets New Records
Bird watchers flocked to annual winter surveyNew York, NY & Ithaca, NY, March 2008 Bird watchers outdid themselves during the 2008 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Participants submitted more than 85,700 checklists during the four-day event, February 15-18, surpassing last year’s all-time record by several thousand. Participants also identified a record 635 species and sent in thousands of stunning bird images from around the continent.
Birders who had heard about the massive seed production failure in trees across northern Canada were expecting a huge influx of northern finches coming south to look for food. “As predicted, there were record numbers of GBBC reports for Pine Grosbeak,” says Rob Fergus, Senior Scientist with the National Audubon Society. It was also a banner year for Common Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks, reported in their highest numbers in several years.In this year’s GBBC, Yellow-billed Magpie numbers hit a new low. Magpies, crows, and jays are especially susceptible to the West Nile virus. For the past few years the population of Yellow-billed Magpies has declined following the spread of the virus to California. Nationwide, American Crow and Blue Jay numbers appear to have stabilized somewhat, but bear continued monitoring as the populations of these birds continue to adapt to the presence of this new disease.
The GBBC charts the explosive geographic expansion of Eurasian Collared-Doves. The species has spread aggressively since it was introduced in Florida in 1980 and made new inroads this year. For the first time, GBBC records of this bird came from British Columbia, Manitoba, and Oregon.
Some species showed up in Great Backyard Bird Count reports for the very first time, including a Masked Duck in Texasa bird that is usually found in the tropics. An Arctic Loon, seldom seen outside Alaska, was spotted in California. An Ivory Gull wandered down from the high Arctic to show up on a checklist in South Dakota. “Each year, awareness of the GBBC seems to spread,” says Cornell Lab of Ornithology Citizen Science Director Janis Dickinson. “Committed individuals, nature centers, parks, and schools adopted the GBBC as their own in an unprecedented way this year. They held bird walks, ID workshops, and many other events tied to the count.”
Pre-schoolers built feeders out of milk jugs. An artist painted a mural of urban birds in Hollywood. One participant commented, “Participating in the bird count has given my children a little taste of what it is like to be a scientist."For an even more detailed summary of this year’s results, visit the GBBC web site at http://www.birdcount.org. You can explore maps, see beautiful photos, prize-drawing winners, and the list cities and towns that topped their state or province for the number of checklists submittedour “checklist champs.”
The Great Backyard Bird Count returns February 13-16, 2009!
Top 10 most-reported birds in the 2008 GBBC:
1) Northern Cardinal
2) Mourning Dove
3) Dark-eyed Junco
4) Downy Woodpecker
5) American Goldfinch
6) Blue Jay
7) House Finch
8) Tufted Titmouse
9) Black-capped Chickadee
10) American Crow
4th July 2014