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Great Backyard Bird Count

February 12 - February 15


People around the world birding.Photos clockwise from top left: Cindy Brown/GBBC; Saneesh CS/GBBC; Lynette Spence/GBBC; Pete Davidson/GBBC.

Project Goal

Each February, for four days, the world comes together for the love of birds. Over these four days we invite people to spend time in their favorite places watching and counting as many birds as they can find and reporting them to us. These observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations.

Counting Instructions

  1. Count birds anywhere you like for at LEAST 15 minutes—or for as long as you wish. Keep track of the kinds of birds you see and how long you watched.
  2. Make your best estimate of how many birds you saw of each species. For example, 5 Northern Cardinals, 3 American Crows. Huge flocks may be a challenge, but your best guess is still valuable.
  3. Enter your list(s) online

Put in a new checklist:

  • for each new day
  • for each different location
  • for the same location, same day, if you counted at a different time of day

Three Ways to Enter Data:

  1. Merlin Bird ID app
  2. eBird Mobile app
  3. eBird web page (desktops and laptops)

Note: You can start entering bird lists at midnight local time on the first day of the count, anywhere in the world. Data entry remains open until March 1, but the information you enter should only be from the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count.


Read below for specific details about how to set up a free account and enter your lists. If you already have a Cornell Lab account for eBird, Merlin Bird ID, Project Feederwatch, Nestwatch, etc. or, you can simply use that login information.

Do I need to create an Account?

If you have never participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count before, or have not participated since before 2013, you’ll need to set up an account. Merlin Bird ID app, eBird Mobile app or eBird.org will walk you through the process of setting up an account. You will be asked to provide your name and email and choose a personal username and password. Additional profile information is optional.

Download Counting Instructions (PDF)

How to Participate

Our History

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was the first online citizen science project, also referred to as community science, to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real time. Birds Canada joined the project in 2009 to provide an expanded capacity to support participation in Canada. In 2013, we became a global project when we began entering data into eBird, the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science (community science) project.


February 12
February 15
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Northern lights © Ryan Morgan Shutterstock

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