Great Backyard Bird Count

Northern cardinal at a backyard feeder.

Looking for something to do during the February doldrums? Consider joining in the 25th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, coming up on Friday, Feb. 18, through Sunday, Feb. 21.

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count? It’s citizen science. A few days when ordinary people around the world come together to watch and count birds and report their observations to the greater birding community. The bird counts made by these citizen scientists are entered into eBird, one of the world’s largest nature databases. And used by the Audubon Society, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and Birds Canada to learn about bird populations and determine how best to protect birds and their habitats, like the beaches and woodlands along the shore of Lake Erie here in Northeast Ohio.

To participate, all you need to do is spend 15 minutes bird watching and enter the type and number of  birds you saw, as well as when and where you saw them, at You can also share photos of the birds you see, or you and your birding buddies. And there is a live map you can watch online to see how the bird counts are going around the world.

You don’t need to be an experienced birder. Anybody who loves birds can participate. And you don’t have to go anywhere to do it. You can count birds in your own backyard! Just settle in on a comfy chair by a window with a hot cup of cocoa and enjoy the birds.

Of course, you can count for more than 15 mins, on more than one day. And you don’t have to count in your backyard. You can do a bird count anywhere there are birds. If you want to go out and explore, there are great bird watching hot spots nearby, like the Huntington Reservation, Cahoon Park and Rocky River Park.

You may not think a cold, snowy February day is a good time to see birds. But you’d be wrong. There are lots of birds to see in all seasons. And you don’t need to see anything exotic. Counts are needed for common backyard birds, like cardinals, blue jays and robins. And birds such as chickadees, juncos, tufted titmice and nuthatches that frequent backyard feeders more in winter than any other season. Raptors too, like red-tailed hawks, bald eagles and even snowy owls. And don’t forget waterfowl, like Canada geese, gulls, ducks and mergansers, that can be seen in the open waters of Lake Erie – and sometimes even standing out on the lake ice!

To get you started there is a free Cornell Lab livestream webinar “Watching and Counting Birds is Fun: Tips for the Great Backyard Bird Count” on Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 2-3 p.m. To register, go to

So join in the fun, become a citizen scientist and participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Maryann Fitzmaurice

Retired physician (pathologist). Resident of Bay Village. Outdoor and wildlife enthusiast, bird watcher, antiquer.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:57 AM, 02.15.2022