Convenient, useful, and fun!
1. Pick a spot in your yard with good bird visibility
2. Count birds from your chosen point for 5-15 minutes, repeat throughout the year
3. Enter your count data into eBird [optional: share lists with Oregon2020]
Don’t Forget: record the start time, length of count, and number of observers.
Do you watch birds in your backyard? Or, are you interested in becoming a backyard birder? Great! Yard Counts are an incredibly simple idea to add to your current birdwatching routine. Just pick a spot in your home or yard, count all the birds you see or hear for 5 minutes or more, and submit the data to eBird. It’s that easy! Repeat this as often as you’d like, and think of all the new data you’ll be contributing. Plus, because you are the only person birding in your backyard, your data is unique, valuable, and will provide you with a record of how the birds in your yard vary over time.
What if I already count birds in my yard? Super! It’s very easy to perform an Oregon2020 yard count in addition to your normal birding routine. See below for instructions on counting using our Oregon2020 method.
What if I already send my yard lists to eBird? That’s wonderful. Every eBird list you submit contributes data to the Oregon2020 project. We just ask that you submit your Oregon2020 Yard Count checklist separately from other yard lists you might keep. This way we can access it more easily through eBird.
How do you track involvement? As long as you submit your Yard Count checklists to eBird, rest assured Oregon2020 will make use of them. However, if you’d like to inform us of your participation, you can fill out this brief participation form. This isn’t mandatory, but it is a great way for us to monitor how many birders are contributing to Oregon2020!
How to Count Birds in your Yard:
This seems pretty self-explanatory. However, following our instructions and doing a fixed-time count at the same location contributes the most meaningful type of data to Oregon2020. Full information and counting protocols to get you started can be found by clicking the PDF document below:
(Note: You need the free Adobe Reader or a similar program to view this document)
Why Count in my Yard?
The Yard Counting project recognizes the value of data gathered from where we live and where we know our birds the best. It can be really exciting to track the number of species we find in our yard, but many of us forget that actually counting the numbers of birds we find is also super valuable and interesting. The Yard Counting project encourages us to remember our “home birds”. A primary value of yard counting is that you are probably the only person who will ever generate data from your property. Even if you are just renting, you have private access to that property. It is unlikely this data will ever be collected for posterity without YOU!
It is your opportunity to leave a wonderful legacy of information about what birds were present there at this point early in the twenty-first century.
Many of us have interests in the genealogical history of our families. Now, via eBird, you can provide a legacy of information about what birds you counted. Future family members and citizens can look back decades and centuries from now to know what birds you were seeing each morning while you drank your morning coffee.
Incentives for Counting:
Along with helping Oregon2020 amass knowledge about the distribution of birds in Oregon, there are some unique benefits about counting birds in your own yard:
- Birding from the comfort of your home. Even if the weather is cold and rainy, or you don’t want to spend the effort traveling to a birding hot-spot, you can cozy up with a cup of coffee and count birds from your front window or kitchen table. It’s easy and quick to gather meaningful data.
- Have friendly competitions with your friends and neighbors via eBird’s yard and patch comparisons here.
- Become more familiar with your local birds. The birds in your yard are almost “your birds”, right? By watching and counting them you get to know them better. This includes their unique traits and behaviors. By paying attention and counting individuals of each species, you appreciate your avian neighbors more!