Northern cardinal

Northern cardinal

In a study published in September, a Cornell University-led team of scientists revealed a decline of more than one in four birds in the United States and Canada since 1970 — a total of 3 billion birds gone.

Given the staggering decline in North America’s avian population, there is no better time than now to help scientists track bird populations — by taking part in the 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), Friday through Monday.

The event is co-sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists at

“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” says Marshall Iliff, project leader of the Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program, which collects the GBBC data. “Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”

In the 2019 count, bird-watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 210,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,850 species — more than half the known bird species in the world. Bird-count data becomes more and more valuable over time because it highlights trends over many years.

To get started, log onto

Create a free GBBC account if you have never participated. If you already created an account for the GBBC in the past, or if you’re already registered with eBird or another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing user name and password.

You can count as much as you wish and in as many places and on as many days as you like through the four-day count. Submit a separate checklist for each new day, for each new location or for the same location if you counted at a different time of day.

Again, follow the instructions on the GBBC website.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is