Citizen Science: Backyard Count Helps Scientists Study Birds

Northern cardinals are common in backyards in Atlanta.
Northern cardinals are common in backyards in Atlanta.
Credit John T. Costa /
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This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s a project where people count the birds in their yards, then upload the list to a website.

The information helps scientists learn more about bird populations, Melanie Furr, director of education at Atlanta Audubon Society, said. Audubon is one of the organizations that sponsors the count.

“[Scientists] can track numbers of populations, whether they’re wintering farther north, because of climate change,” she said. “They can also study the effects of things like West Nile Virus.”

The count, a late-winter companion to the Christmas Bird Count, tracks birds in the places where they spend the winter.

Furr said Atlanta’s a good place for birding.

“We have year-round residents,” she said. “We have birds that come just for the winter, and birds that come just for the summer and then many, many others that come through in spring and fall on their way to other places.”

The count starts Friday, Feb. 13 and continues through Sunday, Feb. 15.

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