Our friend, Dan Boritt, the manager of the Indianapolis Zoo’s Flights of Fancy exhibit, forwarded the latest issue of the Great Backyard Bird Count e-newsletter that reports a record number of people participated this winter. The news is fantastic, with birdwatchers in 103 countries doing more than 120,000 checklists of 3,144 species representing more than 25 million birds. And those are only the preliminary numbers from the four-day event that took place from February 15-18.
According to the Audubon Society, “...those species in total represent nearly one-third of the bird species in the entire world. Bird watchers in the U.S. and Canada set new national records for tallies submitted. Reports have come in from as far away as Antarctica and Afghanistan. So far, 30 states and three provinces have set new records for checklist entries.”
More than 100,000 folks in the United States have already reported, leading the top ten reporting countries. We know folks in Indiana participated, since several of their photos are featured in the gallery linked in the newsletter. We’ve included some of our favorites here, but you’ll want to go to the gallery and check out all the outstanding images there.
Other hot preliminary results reported in the newsletter include:
. Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch
. Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot
. Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
. Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy's landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.
. GBBC First: A Red-flanked Bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported for the GBBC’s first record ever. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird watchers from all over the U.S. and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia; the other GBBC report of this species this year was from Japan.
A more extensive summary of the results will be published on the website in March after scientists at Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada have a chance to review the reports.
Congratulations, bird lovers – nice job. There are more opportunities to participate in monitoring our feathered friends coming down the road – just visit the website for more info!
The American robins photo is by Janice Jasieniecki of Munster, Indiana. The Eastern bluebird is by Warren Bielenberg, taken in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee. (And what's with that little bird's attitude? Are all bluebirds angry?) The little tufted titmouse was photographed by Mary Donovan of Little Rock, Arkansas. The beautiful cedar waxwing above was shot by Patrick Fair in Victoria, British Columbia.