Great Backyard Bird Count

Anna's hummingbird 
Anna's hummingbird ~ Rex Guichard 

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. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds. 

Next Great Backyard Bird Count:  February 15-18, 2018

 GBBC is a joint project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Here's how to Get Started

Because of the snowy weather, Dr. Alan Mearns had to cancel the in-person training for the GBBC. But by following his instructions below, you can do the training from your home computer. Here's what you can do:

  1. Go online to the Great Backyard Bird Count.
  2. Scroll down to the "GBBC Toolkit" (right side of page)
  3. View the “2019 Slideshow”
  4. View or download the "Instructions" (PDF)

In short, anytime during that 4 day period, spend 15 or more minutes watching for birds in your yard or any other place.

Record the date and start and stop times, your location, weather conditions.

Record the number of each species that you see. (You can use the "Optional Data Form" (PDF)

Go back to the "Instructions" (PDF) and see how to type in your data and send it. You will get a reply back to your email confirming that they received it.

Do counts as many times as you want during the 4-day period. Produce a separate data form (aka "check list") for each time and place you observe birds.

Yes, many birds are hard to see let alone identify. Our workshop included guidance on using binoculars. Don't search for birds using binoculars. Instead, using your unaided eyes, watch your lawn, patio, shrubs and trees for movement and birds. Then, without moving your head, raise your binoculars to the movement or bird. If it hasn't flown away, you should get a good look at its size, shape, color and markings.

If you think you know what it might be, Google its name and your will find numerous photos to compare it with.

We also recommend taking a photo (you'll have to zoom), so you can have that to compare. Don't worry if the photo is crummy or fuzzy, it's for your use (not photo art!).

Before or during the GBBC even, Edmonds and local residents needing help can contact Alan Mearns at If you also give me your phone number, I can call you back for any help I can give.

We recommend putting out one or more bird feeders (including hummingbird feeders and suet feeders) within view of your home or apartment windows. They don't have to be permanent installations. Also, you can scatter some bird seed on your patio, lawn or under shrubs. They will come.

Basic Birds and Identification

Below is a list of common birds you should see this time of year in Edmonds vicinity. We recommend you refresh your identification skill by googling these species and looking at the online photos!

On or near the ground:

In shrubs:

Higher up (deciduous trees and conifers):

On Tree trunks:



Alan Mearns,