The Great Backyard Bird Count

by Josee This is for the Birds!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is on this weekend, from Friday February 18th to Monday February 21st. This activity has captured my imagination - I just love it when learning, frugal fun, and the great outdoors collide!

The purpose of the GBBC is to create a snapshot of where birds are located across the continent. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and the GBBC's wonderful website makes it easy for children to get involved.

Here's how it works:

  • Pick your bird-watching spot. It can be your back yard, a park, a forest...anywhere you're likely to spot some birds.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes keeping track of the largest number of birds you spot at one time. For example, if you see three Canada Geese together at 10:00 a.m., then spot six Canada Geese together a few minutes later, you will need to record the six Canada Geese for your tally. Don't add the three and six together, since you might end up counting the same bird twice. You can spend as long as you like at your location watching for birds.
  • If you decide to participate on different days or in more than one location, keep a different tally sheet for each day and each location.
  • Enter your results on the GBBC website.
  • Watch the on-line maps develop as more and more people enter their results.

Don't know the first thing about birds? If you're like me, the only birds you can identify off-hand are Canada Geese, Blue Jays and pigeons! No worries - that's where the GBBC's amazing website comes in. Enter your location here, and a list of bird species native to your area will come up. You can then click on each type of bird to get information and photos. You can also search birds by name here. The GBBC's kids' page also has a link to an application that will teach you and your child different bird calls, as well as numerous other fun, interactive games, colouring pages, and puzzles.

I think my four-year old daughter will love bird watching. I'm just trying to decide where we'll go to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Come to think of it, we could even count the Rock Pigeons in our downtown neighbourhood - there are always plenty of those around!

Josée is mom to three-year old daughter B.G., and one-year old son Bonhomme.  She is always searching for fun and frugal Ottawa events and activities, and puts her research to good use at her website,