Connect with nature during the Great Backyard Bird Count

Painted buntings are among the many species that fly south for the winter.
By Kelly Montoya

Painted buntings are among the many species that fly south for the winter.

Connect with nature during the Great Backyard Bird Count

By Kelly Montoya
Head outdoors this weekend and be a part of the flock that tries to help tally the avian population across the globe.

Across the world, people have turned to birding as a safe way to experience a sense of adventure and discover new passions in their own backyards during the pandemic.

This Friday through Monday, Feb. 12–15, experienced and budding birders alike are encouraged to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual worldwide bird count that helps scientists capture new information about bird populations. 

This is an opportunity to take advantage of the University of Miami’s campus beauty while engaging in a safe, physically distanced activity that contributes to science.

“February is a time when a number of species that have migrated down from the North will be residing here for the winter,” said William Searcy, the Robert E. Maytag Professor of Ornithology at the University of Miami. “In backyards in Miami-Dade, one could hope to see a number of attractive species that are abundant here only in the winter, such as painted buntings, palm warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, and black-throated blue warblers.”

The activity is run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, both of which have very high standing in the ornithological and birding worlds, explained Searcy.  

“One could also hope to see some quite attractive species that are year-round residents, such as spot-breasted orioles, mitred parakeets, and red-whiskered bulbuls. These alien species are notable because there is hardly anywhere else in the country where one could hope to see them,” he added.

Because bird populations are always shifting and changing, participating in the count helps researchers detect long-term trends in bird populations.

According to the Audubon website, each checklist submitted during the Great Backyard Bird Count helps researchers at the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Birds Canada learn more about how birds are doing and how to protect them and the environment we share. Recently, more than 160,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.

Visit the official website for more information on how to participate.