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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Citizen Science and the Great Backyard Bird Count

Julia Rubin at AP:
It’s a given that when the Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday, Steve and Janet Kistler of Hart County, Kentucky, will be joining in. They’ve done so every year since the now-global tradition began 25 years ago.

For Moira Dalibor, a middle-school math teacher a couple hours away in Lexington, this will be the first count. She’s leading a group of students and parents to an arboretum for an exercise in data-gathering.

They’re expected to be among hundreds of thousands of people around the world counting and recording over four days. Last year, about 385,000 people from 192 countries took part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, or GBBC.

In India, which had the highest participation outside the U.S. last year, tens of thousands of people submitted bird checklists — a 28% increase from 2021.

This global data goes into the eBird database used by scientists for research on bird populations, which have declined sharply overall in past decades. It’s part of a rise in “citizen science” projects in which volunteers collect data about the natural world for use by researchers.