The second annual October Big Day, an international bird-counting day is on October 19, 2019. Cornell University's Ornithology Lab and its vast eBird data base is here to help everyone, from the novice to the practiced, count and identify the birds they see on that day.
Although the Great Backyard Bird Count has been an annual Spring event for four years now, Cornell and the bird count co-sponsors didn't think that a once-a-year count was enough, and rightly so, as so many birds seasonally migrate. The two seasonal counts provide so much more information about shifts in migration, bird counts, and at-risk species. Ornithologists can't be everywhere to do the count, so they're 'counting' on you to do the identification and count.
Merlin Bird ID App With Photo ID has great reviews!
I know you're shrinking back and thinking "Me? I love birds, but I'm not sure I can identify anything beyond a pidgeon!"
Not to worry. Cornell's eBird helps you identify and share your information with the entire birding and bird-count community. It really is easy.
First, if you have not done so already, sign up for an account on the eBird website. This is a non-committal registration, totally free, and it enables you to obtain access to an amazing, immense ornithology library.
Second, count birds within 24 hours, between midnight on October 19, 2019 until 11:59 PM on October 19, 2019, whatever time zone you are in! Do it in sessions of at least 10 minutes each and count the members of species you see in that time period. Record each sighting as you see it on a notepad or voice recorder. (Example: "2 pidgeons - oak tree - left of house")
- My own method is to take a photo of each bird and/or group of birds I see and not bother about recording the count at that time. This way after I finish my 'outing' I can look at the photos and record the count in a more leisurely way, making sure I correctly identify the birds. So, for example, I took a photo of hummingbirds drinking from a feeder at the beginning of my short outing, but did not record the count until I returned home and looked at that photo and other photos I took during the walk.
Hummingbirds for bird count ©Myra Per-Lee
- eBird has great suggestions for keeping track of the birds you see: download its eBird Mobile App! This will enable you to create a map of where you are and what birds you see during your walk. (The app helps you identify the birds you are seeing.) You can also make use of these two other apps to help you identify birds. Some birders may not be comfortable using these apps while they are actively counting, but they are fun to use afterwards to make sure you've identified the birds correctly, to hear their calls, and learn more about them.
Third, collect your information and do any further research you need to do; any bird you need to identify will be on the eBird Mobile App or on the eBird website, or try out Cornell Lab's highly rated Merlin app. If you need audio support to identify the sounds of your observed birds, these sites can also provide that support.
Fourth, submit your findings on the App or on the entry page of the eBird website. Bare-bottom submission is to include the number of birds you see in each species, where you saw them (e.g., neighborhood, city, in a tree, on a feeder, etc), and within what time period (e.g., amount of time and time of day). If you can't identify the birds from the above resources, you can always submit the photos of the birds you've seen, and the Cornell Lab will identify them.
Participate in Big October Day, 2019! It's fun! It's easy! There are no winners except for the birds you help identify. Plus, you will be able to watch the count of birds from all over the world in real time as they are entered into the data base.