Great Backyard Bird Count

The results of this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) are in. Participants submitted more than 92,000 checklists to the GBBC this year, giving the organizers a snapshot showing the whereabouts of many hundreds of bird species across the United States and Canada.

Altogether, participants identified 596 species and recorded 11.4 million bird observations. Now the organizers know which birds are plentiful and which are becoming rarer.

European StarlingGBBC participants reported a surprising increase in Evening Grosbeaks, particularly in the northwestern U.S. and in Canada. The most plentiful bird overall was the European Starling – a bird that was introduced to North America with only 100 birds in New York’s Central Park in 1890 and 1891. Today, the bird totals over 200 million and are distributed across the entire continent. It shows what introduced species are capable of becoming.

Conversely, there were some reports of rare birds. A Brown Shrike was spotted in McKinleyville, California, far from its Asian home. On the East coast, a Common Chaffinch from Eurasia was seen in Newfoundland and Labrador.

If you want to learn a new word, how about irruptive? Several irruptive bird species were reported during the GBBC. That is, the birds occasionally and unpredictably move farther south from their usual wintering ranges in Canada. These movements are linked to the size of the seed crops. When there are fewer seeds up north the irruptive species move southward to find what they need.

So congratulations to everyone who participated in the Count this year. If you’d like to read more, visit The Great Backyard Bird Count’s website.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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