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February 10, 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count set to go global

NEW YORK — For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

The 16th edition of the Bird Count is slated for Feb. 15 through 18. Participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online at www.BirdCount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

This year, anyone visiting the GBBC website will be able to see bird observations pouring in from around the world and contribute their own tallies.

Global participation will be made possible thanks to eBird, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon is integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year.

The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands and urban landscapes.

The four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.

“We’re eager to see how many of the world’s 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year,” Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick said in a press release.

Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps and contribute their tallies for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts. For the first time, participants will also be able to upload their counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones.

“To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, web buttons and flyers, visit www.BirdCount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online. Portions of the GBBC site are also now available in Spanish at www.ContandoAves.org.

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