Participating in a count at your home feeder
Let’s say you want to participate in the fall or spring bird count, but don’t want to leave your home and join a field group—luckily, you can still contribute valuable data to these community-science efforts! Just adhere to the following protocol, then submit your data as follows.
If you are reporting for Jefferson, Shelby, and St. Clair counties, the best way to submit your data is by creating an eBird list* and tagging Greg Harber (gharber2). You may also email your sightings to Greg here. If you are in any other county in Alabama outside of those three, the best way to submit your data is by logging your sightings in eBird* and tagging Alabama Audubon (ALAudubon). Alternatively, you may email these results to our Science & Conservation Director here, subject line: “Bird Count Data.” For info on how to participate from home for the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit gbbc.birdcount.org.
- Count all the birds at your feeder for a minimum of fifteen minutes.
- Record the maximum number of individuals of each species you see during that fifteen-minute window.
- Record the time frame (clock-times during which you observed), your precise location (address or GPS), and the date, then submit your results via email. If you’re using eBird to record your count, please share your list with us (ALAudubon). If you have questions about how to use eBird or share your list with us*, email our Science & Conservation Director.
- If you believe you have seen an out-of-range or rare bird at your feeder, please submit a photograph if possible, or if not, a detailed description of the bird.
Some key things to consider: it’s very important that participants not double count individual birds. Imagine a scenario in which you observe five Carolina chickadees at your feeder around 9:10 a.m., those birds leave, and then four Carolina chickadees show up around 9:45. Do you count five birds or nine? Because we’re not very good at separating individual birds from one another, there’s a good chance these four are just a subset of the original five. If you say “nine chickadees,” you’re likely double counting a smaller number of birds. As such, you should only report the maximum number of individuals of a given species observed at one time.
If you count in several different fifteen-minute intervals throughout the day, you’ll still want to report only the maximum number of individuals of a given species observed at any one time. But what if you see species during the afternoon that you didn’t see in the morning, or during one time interval, but not during another? In this case, it’s perfectly acceptable to merge your counts—after all, we’re interested in getting a sense of how many individuals of each bird species show up at your feeder during the day of the count. As long as you report the times during which you observed, we’ll be able to keep track of your “birding effort” (the amount of time you spent observing) and the data will be useful.
Questions? We can help! Email the Science & Conservation Director.
*About sharing your list on eBird: We’ve noticed on the eBird app that you are only given the option to share your list if you are birding with at least one other person. It asks you how many in your party, so if you say one, then you can’t share it. You can say there are two in your party and tag Greg Harber (gharber2) for the counties listed above or tag ALAUDUBON for other counties in Alabama. You can also upload the list on the app, sign in on the website, and share it from there. If you click “My eBird” on the website, then on the right there’s an option that says “manage my checklists.” It will bring you to a list of all your checklists and has an option to share from that screen.
Participating with a field group
If you know a field group participating, join a party leader the day of the count, or you may contact the Science & Conservation Director to arrange for a party to join. Expect a full day in the field, and remember to bring a packed lunch with plenty of water, insect repellent, rain gear, sunblock, and seasonally appropriate attire.
While we encourage participation in the counts, they are not the best times for learning your bird identifications because time is of the essence. If you are seeking to build your birding skills, a better opportunity would be to enroll in one of our birding classes or attend a field trip. (Click here for upcoming events and field trips.)