Last year’s February 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) received just 25 submissions from locations in Montana, but this year we collectively submitted 819 checklists recording 130 species here in February! This is a huge step forward in helping scientists take a snapshot of North American birds. Much like the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) and Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS), data from the GBBC help us track where species are during the winter, enabling range comparisons between years and informing conservation efforts world-wide.
Although checklists can be submitted for this year’s February 12-15th count until March 1st, the GBBC has already received 145,757 checklists from around the world. Combined these checklists represent 5,215 species and 16,353,107 individual birds. These are astounding numbers – and a tribute to what bird observers can accomplish in just 4 days when we are looking.
And, when we look, we turn up some great sightings including 120 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches in Stillwater County, 140 American Wigeon in Gallatin County, 1,100 Common Goldeneye in Cascade County, a Spotted Towhee in Flathead County, and a Say’s Pheobe already present in Missoula County amongst many others. In fact, we collectively spotted eight owl species in Montana: Eastern and Western Screech Owls, Snowy Owl, Great Grey Owl, Long-eared Owl (an astounding 14 in a wintering colony in Ravalli County), Great-horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and Northern Pygmy Owl. Some of these will surely be breeding soon and I am sure folks were excited about those finds! To see what other great birds were spotted you can explore Montana’s GBBC data on eBird here: http://ebird.org/ebird/gbbc/subnational1/US-MT?yr=cur&m=&rank=hc
Thanks to all of those who participated and hopefully the GBBC has helped you catch the “eBird Bug”. It is surely both fun and educational to be part of such an innovative and enormous citizen science effort!
To learn more please visit: http://gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started/ and don’t hesitate to contact Amy Seaman at [email protected] with questions. Next year’s GBBC will be mid-February again and you don’t want to miss it!