In this issue: GBBC photo contest winners, 12 facts about Snowy Owls, notes from a CBC in Afghanistan, and more.

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Audubon logo | American Birds
citizen science

Feb 2014


Current Project

Great Backyard Bird Count: February 14-17

Get Involved

Ready, Set, Count

American Robin | Gwen Starret, CA, 2013 GBBC

American Robin (Photo by: Gwen Starrett, CA, GBBC 2013)

If you can tell a robin from a Red-tailed Hawk and you have 15 minutes to spend in your backyard, a local park, or even at your living room window, then you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count.

A joint project of Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada, the GBBC unites birders from more than 100 countries around the world in a common goal: tallying and discovering more about the birds in their community. GBBC data tells scientists how weather influences bird populations, where irruptive species occur, how current year migrations compare with previous years, how bird diseases affect population, and more. Together we can take a snapshot of bird populations worldwide. Learn how→

Horned Lark | Peter Kaestner

Kaestner counted 19 Horned Larks during his self-conducted Christmas Bird Count in northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Peter Kaestner)

A World Class Birder Conducts his own Afghan Christmas Bird Count

Peter Kaestner is the U.S. State Department’s Senior Civilian Representative to Northern Afghanistan—he’s also one of the top birders in the world. This year, Kaestner conducted his own CBC on the 10 square mile military base on which he lives in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. Audubon magazine interviewed Kaestner about his unique CBC and what it’s like to bird in Afghanistan. Read more→

Asian Paradise-flycatcher | S. Lakshminarayanan, India, GBBC 2013

This Asian Paradise-flycatcher photo won 1st place for composition in the 2013 GBBC photo contest. (Photo by S. Lakshminarayanan, India, GBBC 2013)

GBBC Photo Contest Winners Showcase Birds from Around the World

Citizen scientists make terrific bird photographers. Great Backyard Bird Counters from all over the world submitted photos to the 2013 GBBC photo contest. Check out the winners, and don’t forget to share your photos when you count this year—who knows, next year we could be sharing your winning photo. View the winning images→

Snowy Owl | Ian H. Neilson, Alberta, CA, GBBC 2013

Snowy Owl. (Photo by Ian H. Neilson, Alberta, CA, GBBC 2013)

12 Snowy Owl Questions Answered

Snowy Owls have been spotted as far south as Florida and Bermuda in this year’s major irruption, defined as a dramatic population increase in a particular area from season to season. If you’ll be doing your GBBC in the northern half of the U.S. or Canada (especially near a coastline) this February you may see one of these majestic birds. Recently, bird guru Kenn Kaufman answered 12 questions about snowies. Read more to learn why Snowy Owls hunt during the day, how many eggs they lay, and possible explanations for this year’s Snowy Owl boom. Read more→

Snowy Owl sighting map | eBird

eBird map of Snowy Owl sightings reported in 2014 so far. (eBird)

Contribute Your Bird Data Year Round

Last issue we asked you, “why do you count?” More than half of those who took our survey said the most important reason you’re a citizen scientist is to, “contribute to bird science with accurate data.” eBird, a partnership between Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, lets you share and explore bird data year round. Submit your sightings to contribute to this important database, and explore maps and datasets like this map showing where Snowy Owls have been spotted in 2014 so far. All GBBC data are collected though eBird, so get registered and start reporting your bird sightings now and during the count. Explore eBird→

Getting Started

Tricky Bird IDs Got You Stumped?

Carolina Chickadee | Michelle Black, OH, GBBC 2013

Carolina Chickadees. (Photo by Michelle Black, OH, GBBC 2013)

Have trouble differentiating between Black-capped and Carolina chickadees? What about House, Purple, and Cassin’s finches? You’re not alone. Improve your ID skills before the GBBC with these guides to tricky bird IDs. Read more→

Additional Resources

Identify birds with Audubon’s Online Guide to North American Birds.

Follow these tips when buying your 1st (or 10th) pair of binoculars.

Learn how our feathered friends cope with winter weather.

Wondering what to do about a Hummingbird that sticks around in the winter? Check out our FAQ.

Find Great Backyard Bird Count Events in Your Community

Want to count with a group of birders during GBBC weekend? Check out the local events page where you can join events listed in 24 states and counting. Find an event→

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