Still time to count: Annual GBBC runs Feb. 17-20

Photo by Bryan Stevens • People are invited to count birds during a four-day period as part of the 2023 Great Backyard Bird Count taking place from Friday, Feb. 17 through Monday, Feb. 20. Participants will have an opportunity to look for birds, such as this pileated woodpecker, and report their findings.


The 2023 Great Backyard Bird Count will be held Friday, Feb. 17, through Monday, Feb. 20. This year’s GBBC will mark the 26th anniversary of this annual survey that utilizes citizen science to obtain valuable information about the world’s bird populations.

It’s easy to take part. Simply watch the feeders in your own yard or visit a favored birding spot. For instance, participants could choose to count in Persimmon Ridge Park in Jonesborough, Osceola Island Recreation Area in Bristol, Fishery Park in Erwin, Winged Deer Park in Johnson City, Orchard Bog in Shady Valley, Lake Lure in McDowell County, North Carolina or any other personal favorite birding location.
For details on how to report results of your co

unt, please visit and click the “Participate” menu button.
It really is as simple as counting all the birds you see and submitting your personal checklist.

Since 2013, the GBBC has been a global effort, allowing birders around the world to take part. Participants in 2015 observed almost half of the world’s known bird species, and that effort was surpassed the next year. Momentum has built ever since.

Last year, GBBC participants identified 7,099 species of birds. When you consider that scientists estimate between 9,000 to 10,000 different species of birds throughout the world, that’s a lot of coverage that the GBBC provides each year.
The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada. With its global perspective, a great many exotic bird species are now tallied on the annual GBBC, but the survey remains firmly established as a grassroots effort to compile data crucial for the conservation of the world’s beloved birds. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.

It’s incredibly easy to take part in the GBBC. Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the four-day count period and enter their sightings at There’s no charge or fee for taking part in the GBBC, which is a fun way to observe a variety of birds. Thanks to the flexible count criteria, it is also an easy way to make a contribution to science. The data delivered by the thousands of participants is now collected and compiled by the website

In 2022, the GBBC continued this impressive effort. Here are some interesting tidbits from last year’s survey:
• 7,099 species of birds identified.
• 192 participating countries.
• 359,479 eBird checklists.
• 298,208 Merlin Bird IDs.
• 141,990 photos added to Macaulay Library.
• 384,641 estimated global participants.
The United States had the highest number of checklists with more than 234,000 checklists submitted from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. California led all states with 20,191 checklists submitted. New York, Texas and Florida rounded out the top tier.

North Carolina birders helped their state rank 6th with 9,926 checklists submitted. Virginia birders can be proud that their commonwealth ranked 7th with 9,469 checklists submitted. Tennessee didn’t fare too poorly. The Volunteer State ranked 23rd with 4,074 checklists submitted.
Internationally, people living in the nations of India and Canada submitted a lot of checklists.

Over my years taking part in the GBBC, I have counted many interesting and unexpected birds, including green-winged teal, Ross’s goose, snow goose, red-shouldered hawk and Cooper’s hawk.

This year’s GBBC will be held over a four-day period, starting on Friday, Feb. 17, and continuing through Monday, Feb. 20.

Participants can count alone or join with groups of fellow birders. Those taking part in the GBBC are invited to count in as many locations as they like. The reported results will help create a real-time snapshot of where birds are distributed during the winter months. Visit for more details on how to take part in the 2023 GBBC.

Circle these dates on your calendar and get ready to go count birds.


To share a sighting, make a comment or ask a question, email me at

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