by Jayne Wamsley, Education Co-Chair
The 23rd Great Backyard Bird Count ran from February 14-17th this year and set new records in all categories. Participants jumped by 43,893 with 249,444 checklists submitted. The species count was 6,942 worldwide with 661 species documented in the United States. The top 10 species for Canada and the US by rank were: Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, House Sparrow, House Finch, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee and Red-bellied Woodpecker. The Red-bellied Woodpecker pushed the White Breasted Nuthatch from 10th place this year. The Snow Goose count came in at 7,194,952, the most of any species.
California tallied the most checklists at 13,331, followed by New York State with 10,535. Santa Barbara County recorded 197 species with 244 checklists submitted; 300 Ruddy Ducks and 200 Western Grebes topped the species count.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a collaborative event coordinated by the Cornell Lab, Audubon and Birds Canada. It provides an opportunity for birders to become citizen scientists, collecting vital statistics for Ornithologists and Environmental scientists. The checklists collected provide vital information on how bird species are adapting to environmental changes, including how birds may change their breeding and migration ranges. Anna’s Hummingbirds are one example of this; since the 1930’s they have extended their breeding range north into Vancouver, B.C. and east to southern Arizona.
A big thank you to all who participated this year. Remember, birds are a critical keystone species; they need our protection every day.