How is the bird count performed?

During the day of the bird count, observers disperse over the count area and record the quantity of each species they identify.

Birding by car is a great way to see the countryside and lots of birdsThe compiler of the bird count divides the count circle into territories and then assigns different teams of observers to cover each territory. This helps to minimize double-counting of birds, while also helping to ensure that observers are spread throughout the count circle resulting in better coverage.

Birding by car is a great way to see the countryside and lots of birds

Bruce Peterjohn checking the map after seeing a Loggerhead Shrike.
Photo by Jeffrey White, 1979.

Observers usually travel as a small team, within the territory they have been assigned to cover. Some groups are assigned to cover land areas like Infirmary Mound Park or Dawes Arboretum, where the mode of transportation is primarily on foot. Other groups cover larger areas of the count circle where bird viewing is from public roads and rights-of-way. Those territories are covered by automobile, and the team drives slowly through the countryside and makes frequent stops to watch and listen for birds.

Barred OwlOther modes of transportation such as bicycles, boats and canoes are also possible if someone is so inclined, but most observers prefer the comfort of a warm automobile.

On the date of the count, birds may be observed and counted anytime within the 24-hour period, from midnight to midnight. Most observers limit their participation to some portion of the daylight hours. However, some birders also enjoy going out before sunrise and after sunset for the purpose of trying to hear owls calling.

Another way of participating on the bird count is to monitor a bird feeding station. For example, people living within the count circle can stay in the comfort of their home and note which bird species and how many of each kind are using backyard feeders.

Checking the lake for early flyers at sunrise