Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Worldwide Bird Count Results

You can view photos of birds from across America and around the world at the GBBC website. This NeNe pair was photographed in Hawaii by Paul Konrad.
This colorful Black-headed Siskin was photographed in Mexico by Luke Seitz.
This dramatic Palawan Peacock-Pheasant was photographed in the Philippines by Bruce Wedderbum.

During the premier annual February birding event, a world of birders participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 12 to 15. People tallied the birds at their feeders, in their yards, at their favorite birding locations, and wherever their heart took them to document where the birds are during mid-February, the height of the winter season. As participants from 160 nations worldwide continue to send in their Valentine’s weekend lists, to date 6,414 different species of birds have been tallied! Americans alone submitted 222,457 bird checklists so far.

Looking at information summed about total species observed for each country, the United States is presently ranked 8th with 663 species, just above Australia (566 species) and Thailand (520) in the Top 10. As usual, Colombia ranked first with 1,158 and India second with 961 species. Ecuador (835 species), Brazil (816 species), and Mexico (745 species) follow – a testament of how impressive the avifauna of neighboring Mexico is, ranking 5th!

Canada is an example of a number of northern countries that don’t have high winter species totals (263 species), along with some northern European countries and Russia. Of course, the total number of species can also be a reflection of the number of birders participating in each nation, and some nations are obviously under-represented, such as Kenya, Panama, and China, but that’s the way citizen science often works – there are added variables. But the numbers of people participating in this 4-day event are both impressive and encouraging as momentum continues to grow along with the numbers of people involved.

You can review the results that have been submitted from around the world by hundreds of thousands of participants in the Great Backyard Bird Count at

Time for a Name Change

At this point, it’s abundantly clear that administrators for this exciting event must address the fact that it’s far past time for a name change for the GBBC. This event is no obviously not a “Backyard” count anymore, and it hasn’t been since the parameters were changed to include anywhere beyond the original “backyard” parameters. It’s a simple fix too; quick and easy. Simply drop the word Backyard from the present Great Backyard Bird Count to make it the “Great Bird Count” – or better yet, call it the “Great Winter Bird Count.”

If you take a look at the species counts, lists, and photos submitted last Valentine’s weekend on the website, at this point “Great Backyard Bird Count” is probably the worst descriptive name that could be applied to this wonderful event. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a realistic alarm bell – and this undoubtedly isn’t the first alarm. Call it what it is, and it’s obviously no longer limited to the “backyard.” A name change may happen, eventually, or it may never happen; regardless, it’s a premier birding event, a super opportunity for birders to get involved in an exciting census, and period to feel the thrill of being a part of a truly international birding weekend!