This past weekend was the annual 4 day Great Backyard Bird Count.
"The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited."
This was my first time participating in the count. The process is very easy. Watch in any location on any of the 4 days for at least 15 minutes and then submit an online form indicating the maximum number of each species that you see at any one time during you watch. This is slightly different than normal bird counting where you count all of the birds that you see, here you only count the maximum number that are all visible at once for each species. You can submit multiple reports from multiple locations.
I got off to a slow start as I worked on Friday and did not have a break to get outside. Karyn covered for me by performing her own count and submitting it. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I was in the wilderness first aid course. Since the first aid course was at the Hull's Grove Foothills Learning Center, I counted on my way in, at lunch, and my walk home each day.
This year was a record year for participation. Across the US and Canada, 65,175 checklists were submitted (up from 60,000 last year) with 598 unique species observed (down from 623 last year). In all, volunteers counted over 9 million birds in 4 days (probably many more as you only submit the highest seen at one time).
My species: Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl, Northern Flicker, American Robin, European Starling, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, Mallard, Redhead, Great Blue Heron, California Quail, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, House Sparrow, Wood Duck, Black-billed Magpie.
Update 2/26/2007 - Checklists are still being collected. The new total is 75,699 checklists including 621 unique species!