Citizen Science is for the Birds

goldfinchWatching birds, feeding birds, and learning about birds is a great way to get students excited! These activities can carry over to family time as well. Feeder birds (song birds) can be attracted to your school through habitat improvement and the addition of bird feeding and watering stations.

Bundle up, grab your binoculars and head out to count birds for science! Join in on the 2024 Great Backyard Bird Count.

Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 16-19, 2024. Count birds in as many places and on as many days as you like—one day, two days, or all four days. Citizen science activities like the Great Backyard Bird Count are truly used by ornithologists and biologists, along with other scientific studies, to look at changes in bird populations, distribution, and species movement.

Learn how to get started with this citizen science project and learn how to enter your data!

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

If you’re new to the count, first register online, then enter your checklist.

Need help with identification?

A great way to extend this activity would be to talk about the individual birds you identified and what adaptations they have. Birds have a variety of adaptations including characteristics of their beaks, feet, legs, wings and coloration. Those adaptations have evolved so that the bird is better suited to its particular environment and lifestyle. Check out Project WILD’s “Adaptation Artistry” to help students realize that there are advantages for birds to look the way they do.

Do you have younger students? Check out this recommend book “Bird County” from Project Learning Tree! Use this book with K-2 students to learn about participating in the Audubon Bird Count. Read more here!

Project WILD activities that correlate:

  • Adaptation Artistry (grades 3-5, 6-8) – identify and describe the advantages of bird adaptations and evaluate the importance of adaptations to birds
  • Bird Song Survey (grades 6-8, 9-12) – identify and describe the importance of bird counting as one means of inventorying wildlife populations

Cross-reference to these units for additional information: