The Great Backyard Bird Count (February 18-21) lets your students be “real” scientists simply by identifying and counting birds. The GBBC is an important source of nationwide bird data. Sponsored by the Cornell Ornithology Lab, the GBBC encourages bird watchers of all levels of expertise to spend as little as 15 minutes identifying and counting birds in their backyards (or schoolyards as the case may be), then submitting their counts to the website. The data collected from the GBBC is used by scientists studying population trends and patterns in wintering birds. This data can then be used to do things like designate new protected habitats.
There are several GBBC-related activities you can do with your students. Before counting, you can teach your students how to identify the 10 most common species. After counting, take a look at previous years’ data, and discuss what you see — patterns, trends, conclusions — all great critical thinking practice!
By participating with your students in the GBBC, you’ll be helping scientists gather important data, and you’ll be giving your students the feeling that they’re doing something real — and, you get to take them outside to do it!