Field Notes: Joining the Great Backyard Bird Count

A gila woodpecker takes flight while two Gambel’s quail look on.


One amazing thing I’ve realized by staying home during the pandemic is that if I just simply look out my window for more than a few seconds, it’s impossible NOT to see birds. My husband and I joked last spring that it seemed there were so many more birds around our house than the year before, when really we’ve just had more opportunities to see them. I’m so grateful for this, and this weekend, I’ll be watching birds for a global purpose. 

Every February, birders around the world join together to witness and report on the birds around them as part of the Great Backyard Bird CountRunning February 12-15, 2021 this year, everyone is invited to submit an eBird checklist after bird watching anywhere for at least 15 minutes. 

So far this morning, I’ve seen 15 species in my front yard: gila woodpeckers chasing each other; northern cardinals and their paler cousins Pyrrhuloxia; lesser goldfinches; white-crowned sparrows; and even Costa’s hummingbirds.

To submit a checklist, all I have to do is: 

  • Grab my favorite bird field guide and binoculars. 
  • Download the eBird app from my mobile device app store. 
  • Start a new checklist and verify my place, date, and time. 
  • Add each species I see, recording the exact count when I can, and my closest estimate when I can’t. 
  • Submit my checklist and join 160,000 other birders contributing data around the world! 

Emily’s checklist for Friday, February 12:

Our eBird checklists help conservation scientists at the National Audubon SocietyCornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada track how well birds are doing so that we can better understand where our avian friends need our protection most. 

Tag us on social media and share your favorite bird sightings!