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Article for January - February 2010

By the Numbers: The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

Gold finch - photography by Ted BorgThe Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual, four-day event held over President's Day weekend that is aimed at beginning bird-watchers and experts alike. The information gathered helps scientists understand changing bird populations and the environmental factors behind them.

Participants identify and count birds for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period—set this year for February 12-15. Online checklists are available at the GBBC website.

In 2009, bird counters across North America submitted nearly 94,000 checklists containing 11.6 million birds representing 619 species. South Carolina ranked seventh among the states for most species of birds reported—199.

Cardingal - photography by Robert ClarkNorthern cardinals, mourning doves and dark-eyed juncos appeared on the most lists overall, while the largest raw numbers of birds reported were snow geese (almost 1.4 million), Canada geese and American robins.

Across the Palmetto State, the most frequently sighted birds in 2009 were these:

  • Red-winged blackbird—9,951 birds counted
  • American goldfinch—9,580
  • Dunlin—7,960
  • Northern cardinal—5,106
  • Cedar waxwing—4,901
  • American robin—4,499
  • Tree swallow—4,136
  • Mourning dove—4,116
  • Chipping sparrow—3,521
  • Yellow-rumped warbler—3,278

Mourning Doves - photography by Michael FosterAt the other end of the spectrum, single sightings were reported of these species: black-bellied whistling duck, harlequin duck, red-necked grebe, Virginia rail, Wilson’s plover, spotted sandpiper, whimbrel, black-chinned hummingbird, calliope hummingbird, sedge wren, prairie warbler, blackpoll warbler, Northern waterthrush, Bachman’s sparrow and salt marsh sharp-tailed sparrow. For more information, visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/.

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© 2010 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, January - February 2010 - www.scwildlife.com 

 

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