Great Backyard Bird Count, Block Island-style

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 10:15pm

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is this weekend: Feb. 16 – 19. This is a global effort to observe and report which bird species are where during the winter — between migration times.

"The 2018 GBBC again promises to provide an important snapshot of bird occurrence in February," says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program.

GBBC was started in 1998 by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. The idea is to involve citizen scientists, from all over the world to report their sightings online during a very short time period. The process is simple. First, you must actively look for birds for at least 15 minutes (or more) on any, or all, of the four days; and second, report your observations online on eBird. To learn more go to, or meet at Town Hall parking lot for the Block Island GBBC Bird Walk, Monday, Feb. 19 at 8:30 a.m.

It is estimated that 240,418 bird watchers from over 100 countries participated in the four-day GBBC in 2017. In Rhode Island 445 check lists were submitted, six of them from Block Island. Maybe this year we can double the number of reports from the island.

This global event provides an opportunity for bird watchers to contribute important bird population data that help scientists see changes that have occurred over the 21 years that GBBC has existed. Bird populations are dynamic. No single scientist could document and understand the vast distribution of species and their movements, both regionally and globally, without the contributions of citizen scientists — like you.

For more information about the Block Island GBBC, call me at (401) 595-7055.

Kim Gaffett is the Ocean View Foundation Naturalist at The Nature Conservancy.