This is an easy project for CYFAR programs to pull together. Just count the birds (by species) in your backyard (or other convenient location) for 15 minutes (or longer) on one of these 4 days. There are a few more rules, but it is an uncomplicated way to add citizen science and community service activities to your program while introducing the key issues of biodiversity and climate change. And, as of 2013, the GBBC is international! So no matter where you live, you can count.
Want to make this into a family or community event? The website provides a downloadable poster, slides and presentation notes, and suggests additional hands-on activities. The data form is easy to fill out and can be submitted by mail or online.
Time: Ranges from a minimum of 30 minutes (prep: 5 minutes; activity: 15 minutes observation, 10 minutes discussion, complete form and submit), to a several hours-long event
Supplies: Participation form and rules (download from website)
Bird identification guide (optional)
Educational materials and other activity ideas (optional; download from website)
Where and When Birds Travel
Global climate change appears to have an impact on the wintering and breeding ranges for birds throughout North America. The Christmas Bird Count, conducted by the National Audubon Society for the past 100 years, demonstrates that almost 60% of the 305 species that winter in North America have changed their range—shifting to the north an average of 35 miles since the mid 1960’s. A number of species, like the American Robin and the Wild Turkey, have shifted their winter destinations several hundred miles. This change in range, related to climate change, results in habitat and ecosystem disruption.
Discussion and Reflection Questions
Great Backyard Bird Count
Analysis of Christmas Bird Count Data showing the change in range over 40 years
Map of the NA bird species showing the most change in winter range http://www.audubon.org/bird/bacc/images/BACC_map.jpg
Example: Geese wintering in Alaska instead of Mexico
Explaining Bird Migration (the role of predators in the migration of lemmings)