The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is the most fun annual international event! It can be entered by anyone of any age and it can be accomplished in as little as 15 minutes; all you have to do is count the birds you see at home or elsewhere and identify them.
Bird populations can be affected by changing climate and weather events. Sometimes these changes impact the size of the species and/or their whereabouts. The annual contest is conducted to assist the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn about where birds are and how they're doing. Those experts can't be everywhere at once, so they depend on us "volunteer collectors" during the GBBC. Last year there were 160,000 participants who submitted their findings, the largest snapshot of the world's birds taken during one short period of time.
When you sign up for the GBBC you will get all kinds of great resources to ready you for the event, including ways to collect your data, how to organize it, species lists, and apps with species names, photos, and geographical regions of nearly every known bird in the world. Plus, you will get many tips on how to conduct and submit your surveys, as well as how to maximize your experience for your own benefit.
You can, and probably should, photograph the birds you see and upload them with your data, and you can even enter your photos in the GBBC 2018 photo contest. The photos must, of course, be taken during the four days of the GBBC.
You get a neat certificate just for joining the GBBC.
GBBC Participation Certificate
Then, in a few weeks, the GBBC will tabulate the results and post them, where the 2017 results are published now in abbreviated-enough form to hold your interest. And they are interesting!
The 2018 event will take place February 16 through 19, four full days. You can collect as much data as you want each day, but at least 15 minutes on the days your participate.
Have fun. Good luck. You can start your journey here.