February 23, 2006

Birders Find, Report 579 Distinct Species

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Thousands of birdwatchers from across the continent sighted nearly seven million birds in the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and National Audubon Society’s ninth annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which occurred Feb. 17 to 20.

Between the 50,000 individuals who submitted checklists, close to 579 species of birds were observed.

The GBBC provides a forum for recreational birdwatchers to share their observations and also allows researchers to chart the long-term movements of species around the North America.

“Bird populations are ever-changing, so no two counts are alike. The distributions and numbers of birds fluctuate from year to year, and the GBBC helps record these differences,” said Miyoko Chu, science editor for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

In Ithaca alone, 11,843 birds of 64 species have been reported, according to Chu. With 147 checklists, Ithaca submitted the ninth largest number of checklists of any city on the continent. The city with the most submissions, Charlotte, N.C., contributed 313 checklists.The GBBC’s reliance on these individual reports underscores the role of public participation and technology in scientific observation.

“This project has become a major source of scientific information about North American bird populations