It’s been 5 years since we first began highlighting the Great Backyard Bird Count, a citizen science collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Since then, we’ve participated in 3 countries, on 2 continents, primarily in birding hotspots such as the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, India, a special corridor of avian biodiversity in the foothills of Poas Volcano in Costa Rica, and Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The data that is collected by thousands of individual birders for eBird has long range benefits for monitoring both the health and range of particular species, as well as the state of the planet as species have to adapt to changing climate.
The map above indicates the locations from which checklists have been submitted (each gray dot represents a list, and the larger yellow dots are a moment frozen in time when a list has just been submitted. I highly recommend clicking on the image to view the site and watch the “lists” pop through the map!) Initially the GBBC only took place in North America, and birders worldwide rejoiced when it was expanded into a global event. (We were in India at the time, so I kid you not.)
This year was the first one where I can say I literally did a Back Yard Bird Count. We’ve moved back to Costa Rica, and our few acres of former coffee finca is a little pocket of biodiversity.
Without much effort I listed 9 species, with at least 5 more that were only heard, or too fleeting to clearly identify. Some, like a Lesson’s Motmot family, seem to be area residents, while birds like the Summer Tanager seem to be just passing through. (Like the Keel-billed Toucan we shockingly saw resting in a Poro tree a few months back!)
Granted, Costa Rica has numerous true birding hotspots, many of which we’ve explored, there’s something extremely satisfying about birding in your own backyard.