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You and Your Grands: Citizen Scientists in 2014!

Whether or not you live in the same State or even country – you and your grands can become citizen scientists this week!  It’ the annual Great Backyard Bird Count!  GBBC photo 3GBBC photo 2

Here’s how easy it is for all of you to participate in this free, citizen science project:

Register online; count the birds in your backyard, neighborhood or community for at least 15 minutes on any or all of four dates from February 14th to 17th;  and report your results using the easy online ‘check list’ of species and number of birds you saw. The website has information on identifying bird species, so everything you need to complete your report is readily available.

You’ll be helping collect data on wild birds as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count… the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and display results in near real-time.

In 2013, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in 111 countries counted 33,464,616 birds on 137,998 checklists, documenting 4,258 species—more than one-third of the world’s bird species. That was my first citizen science project with one of my then 4 1/2 year old grandsons! It was great fun to count birds each in our own backyard, then compare what species we each saw and how many we each counted.

On a different day, we joined together for the bird count in a nature reserve across the street from his home. (I live in the same state, but an hour’s drive away.) His mom and dog helped us with our project that day. We’ll be citizen scientists together again this year.

Since 1998, scientists have been using this information to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations.  For example:

  • How does the timing of bird migrations change from year to year?
  • How does changing weather and climate affect bird populations?
  • What are the differences in bird species and numbers in cities vs. suburbs vs. rural areas?

Led by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society since 1998, this was the first citizen science online project!  Cornell uses science to understand the world and to find new ways to make conservation work.

For more information; to register for the project; or to learn how to enter the GBBC bird photo contest, go to this link: https://www.gbbc.birdcount.org

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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