Great Backyard Bird Count – update 20 Feb. 2014

GBBC eNewsletter

February 20, 2014

Although data are still coming in, it’s clear that the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count is on track to be another record-breaker! By mid-morning today participants from a record 131 countries had submitted bird checklists, eclipsing last year’s 110 countries. A huge thanks to all who participated! We wanted to share some of the impressive numbers we have so far and a few of the trends we see. 

You can continue entering checklists for February 14-17 through the GBBC website. If you have lists for those dates that you need to enter after the end of the month, you can do so directly in eBird.

Top 10 most frequently reported species (number of checklists reporting this species):

Northern Cardinal, Ella Clem
Species Number of Checklists
Northern Cardinal 53,540
Dark-eyed Junco 51,186
Mourning Dove 44,278
Blue Jay 39,363
Downy Woodpecker 36,766
American Goldfinch 33,396
American Crow 32,381
House Finch 32,271
Tufted Titmouse 31,950
Black-capped Chickadee 30,822


 Top 10 most numerous species (sum of the number of individuals observed across all checklists):

Snow Geese, Larry Jordan
Species Number of Individuals
Red-winged Blackbird 1,570,808
Snow Goose 1,223,082
Canada Goose 1,031,278
European Starling 5542,477
Mallard 493,774
Ring-billed Gull 433,823
American Coot 417,504
Dark-eyed Junco 404,057
American Crow 328,601
American Goldfinch 323,672


Checklists have come from Australia, China, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Iceland, India, Kenya, and even Antarctica! In Canada, participants in British Columbia have racked up the highest provincial species total (192). Participation in the Maritime Provinces is also up with reports from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador already outstripping last year’s totals even before all the data has been entered.
India is the clear superstar outside of North America with more than 3,000 checklists and the greatest number of species reported, a whopping 806!

Country Number of Species Number of Checklists
United States 643 112,281
Canada 234 12,340
India 806 3,195
Australia 492 854
Mexico 658 451
Costa Rica 554 165
United Kingdom 155 150
Puerto Rico 113 150
Portugal 177 134
Honduras 335 104

In North America, California sits atop the leader board with the most checklists and the greatest number of species so far, but New York is nipping at its heels for the checklist record. Ontario, Canada, has jumped into the top 10 for checklists, outdistancing even big birdy states such as Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.

State/Province Number of Species Number of Checklists
California 358 8,472
New York 165 7,663
Pennsylvania 136 6,945
Ontario 146 6,329
Texas 350 5,526
Florida 307 5,376
Ohio 137 5,214
Virginia 179 4,883
North Carolina 194 4,876
Michigan 127 4,000

These checklist and species numbers will continue to rise as GBBC participants enter their data for the four days of the count through the end of the month.  Although much more data have yet to be recorded, here are some of the trends noted so far.

  • Fewer Finches
    After last year’s “superflight,” this year’s GBBC reports for 10 irruptive species (mostly finches) are down considerably. This includes reports for the White-winged and Red crossbills, Common and Hoary redpolls, Pine and Evening grosbeaks, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Bohemian Waxwings. These are believed to be natural fluctuations in numbers because of variation in seed crops.
  •  Snowy Owl Invasion Continues
    A massive irruption of Snowy Owls into the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes States of the U.S., as well as southeastern Canada, is easily seen in GBBC numbers. Preliminary results show participants reported more than 2,500 Snowy Owls in 25 states and 7 provinces of the U.S. and Canada!
  • The Polar Vortex Effect
    The frigid cold in many parts of North America has resulted in unusual movements of waterfowl and grebes. With the Great Lakes almost completely frozen, some species, such as the White-winged Scoter and the Long-tailed Duck, have fled the frozen lakes and stopped at inland locations where they are not usually found at this time of year.

Do some exploring on your own with the new “Explore a Location” tool.  See what species are being reported and how many checklists are being turned in at the county, state/province, and country levels. And don’t forget to browse some of the awesome photos being submitted for the GBBC photo contest–and enter your own! 

Stork-billed Kingfisher, submitted by John Hyde and Kim Sultze from Sarawak, Borneo

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