2016 Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) has come and gone (this year Feb 12th thru 15th) and I’ll touch on a few of the statistics from this fun and engaging event. But first, what is the GBBC? Well let’s look as how the National Audubon Society describes it, “a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.”

This is an excerpt for an article I did for The North Columbia Monthly with the focus being on birds and results of the GBBC in the Upper Columbia River region.
All of the images on this page were taken during the four day period of the 2016 GBBC.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a partnership between Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with support from various groups including Wild Birds Unlimited, to increase the understanding of how worldwide bird populations are doing as well as how to protect the birds and the environment we share in common. In 2015 the GBBC engaged nearly 150,000 participants over a four day weekend to create a living snapshot of global bird populations. 

So how did we do in the Columbia Highlands? Stevens County was ranked 27th out of Washington State’s 39 counties with 55 species identified by five participants; Ferry County received the ranking of 29th for 50 species recorded by 6 participants, Pend Oreille had four participants identifying 37 species gaining it the rank of 33rd.  Looking north of the line the Kootenay Boundary region had 30 species spotted by nine participants. Washington State over all had 216 species noted to British Columbia’s 199.

Anyone who spends much time observing wildlife know that bird populations are always in flux. The variables of climate affecting not only migratory patterns of many species, forage opportunities (or lack thereof) and site changes as in large wildfire scars, drought impacted areas, et cetera. The Great Backyard Bird Count data assists ornithologists in determining why or in some cases predicting how climatic events will impact bird populations. Recent data illustrated the effects of the polar vortex on migrations highlighted by the Snowy Owl irruptions across much of mid North America.

Interested in what birds were accounted for in our region? If the editor will bear with me for an extended list we can answer that question:
Common Goldeneye, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Canada Goose, California Quail, Wild Turkey, Hairy Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Mountain Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow, Mallard, Bufflehead, Northern Harrier, Black-billed Magpie, American Dipper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Rock Pigeon, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, American Crow, Bewick's Wren, House Finch, Common Redpoll, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tundra Swan, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Horned Grebe, American Coot, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Blue Heron, Barrow's Goldeneye, Pied-billed Grebe, Pygmy Nuthatch, Ruffed Grouse, Redhead Duck, Great Horned Owl.

Here’s the webpage info for the Great Backyard Bird Count. I’m planning to get the info to our North Columbia Monthly in advance next year in hopes of recruiting more amateur bird watchers to participate in this fun, engaging and worthwhile event. In the meantime grab the field glasses, camera and bird id book and get out there and enjoy the great wild blue yonder…


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