In this issue: Snowy Owls on the move, how to choose binoculars, and spreading the word about the GBBC.

GBBC eNewsletter

January 2012

Participating in the GBBC is a family affair for these siblings. Photo by Jerald Reb, Delaware, 2011 GBBC.

Counted and Be Counted!

Make sure your local birds are represented in the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count—they won’t count unless YOU do! Save the dates: the 15th annual GBBC takes place February 17-20. Everything you need to know to participate is on the website at, including downloadable instructions, FAQs, and a how-to video. Get a regional list of the birds you might see in your area in February so you can brush up on your identification skills ahead of time.
Snowy Owl by Frank and Sandra Horvath, Ontario, 2009 GBBC

Snowy Owl Invasion

Spectacular Snowy Owls are on the move! In November the owls began moving well south of their usual winter range in Canada, with reports as far south as Kansas. Read more about the phenomenon in this eBird article. And even if you don’t see a Snowy Owl in your state or province during the GBBC you can still appreciate how truly beautiful these birds as you watch this YouTube video about the welcome “invasion.”
Volunteers participate in the Christmas Bird Count in in Northhampton, Massachusetts. Photo by Geoff LeBaron

Why Does Your Count Matter?

As you gear up for this year’s GBBC, preliminary data coming from Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC) suggest some shifts in where birds are spending their time, perhaps due to the season’s relatively mild temperatures. Data suggest that bird species we tend to see in concentrated areas during colder temperatures are now dispersed throughout the landscape, taking advantage of the open marshes and ponds. Consider New York’s Central Park where warm temperatures may have played a role in a low bird count this holiday season. Participants tallied 3,286 birds – 3,000 fewer than last year. Citizen scientists like you can help us further monitor some of these trends. So, let’s make this year’s GBBC bigger and better than ever, and do our part to help the birds.
Newly-minted bird watcher! Photo by Madeline Mobley, Mississippi, 2011 GBBC

Binocular Basics

Binoculars are an essential tool for spotting and identifying birds at a distance. But there’s a mind-boggling array of “binos” to choose from. Get some pointers on choosing, using, and caring for your binoculars in this GBBC website article.

Be a GBBC Ambassador

We rely on GBBC ambassadors to spread the word about the GBBC and encourage new people to join in—whether it’s posting some GBBC fliers in your community, leading a bird walk during the count, or holding a workshop to show others how to take part. Our GBBC PowerPoint presentation (with script) is handy for these presentations. Some ambassadors also distribute the GBBC news release and speak to newspaper, television, and radio reporters. If you’re interested in doing more to promote the count, please fill out our GBBC ambassador form. (If you've already done so, you don't have to do it again, thank you!)
Conversing Black-capped Chickadees. Photo by Helena Garcia, Quebec, 2011 GBBC

Chat About It

We’re closing in on 5,000 members for the GBBC Facebook group! The group has taken on a life of its own with members helping each other with bird ID questions and keeping the conversation about birds going year-round. It’s a great group!

The Twitter widget is back on the GBBC home page too, so it’s time to start talking up the count and tell others what you’re seeing. Use the tag #gbbc to see your tweets on the GBBC home page.

Visit Wild Birds Unlimited, a sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count!
Keep up with us on Facebook and join the flock! 
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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation.

Bird Studies Canada administers regional, national, and international research and monitoring programs that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. We are Canada's national body for bird conservation and science, and we are a non-governmental charitable organization.

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