Time to Count!

Hi friends! It’s one of the best times of the year…the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s time to get ready to count some birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) occurs every February for four days. This year the count is this weekend, February 15-18. Created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the GBBC was the first online citizen-science project to collect bird data in real time. In 2018, over 6,4000 bird species were recorded in over 100 countries in just four days!

It’s fun and easy to participate:

  • Create an eBird account if you don’t already have one. It’s free and only takes a minute to set up.
  • Go outside for at least 15 minutes and count as many birds as you can identify. You can count anywhere as long as you want.
  • Submit your results on eBird.com. Or use the mobile app to submit your data in real time.

That’s it! By participating, you are helping scientists obtain data to help them track trends in bird populations before spring migration starts.

Team BirdNation participates in the Great Backyard Bird Count every year, and 2019 is no exception. We’ll be bringing you updates on the birds we find throughout the weekend. Hope you can join in the fun!

To find out more info, check out the Great Backyard Bird Count website, gbbc.birdcount.org.

Cape May Big Day

Yesterday, October 6th, was the first October Global Big Day. For the past 4 years, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has held an annual Global Big Day event in May. 2018 is the first year that this Big Day event was also held in autumn. With spring now in the Southern Hemisphere and autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, the Lab thought it would be great time to track the migrations around the world.

Dave and I went to Cape May for our big day. We hiked around our two favorite Cape May locations: Cape May Point State Park and South Cape May Meadows.

It seemed like everyone had the same idea about going to the Point. It was packed with birders of all ages. Many people were participating in the fall Hawk Watch, which takes place daily during the migration. Located on a prime location of the Altantic Flyway, Cape May is one of the best birding areas in the country to catch a sight of migrants, whether they are hawks, warblers, or anything in between.

Cape May Point highlights:

  • Tree Swallow massive flock!: We had the opportunity to observe a large flock of Tree Swallows gathering on the beach. It was amazing to watch them swirl around over the sand. Tree Swallows migrate in huge flocks that can number in the hundreds of thousands. They take about 3-4 months to migrate from their summer to their wintering grounds, leisurely stopping en route to forage, preen, and rest.  Sometimes the flocks are so large that they come up on weather radar as “roost rings”.


  • Monarch Butterflies. It’s also migration time for the Monarch Butterfly. Cape May happens to be a fantastic place to experience their journey. We saw many as we walked the trails.


  • Palm Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Warblers are now migrating through the area to their wintering grounds. There were Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting through the trees, Common Yellowthroats skulking through the bushes, and Palm Warblers zooming across the path. During fall migration, warblers adopt more drab plumage as opposed to their bright spring breeding plumage. The Palm Warblers we saw were actually the Western subspecies. The Western Palms are more numerous on the Atlantic Coast during fall migration.

Palm Warbler (Western)
Palm Warbler “Western” subspecies (Image by BirdNation)

South Cape May Meadows Highlights:

  • Atlantic Ghost Crab: Atlantic Ghost Crabs can be found from Block Island, Rhode Island south to Brazil along the coast. They are primarily nocturnal, so it was a surprising but wonderful sight to see one running along the trail.

Atlantic Ghost Crab (Image by BirdNation)

  • Winter Waterfowl: The winter Waterfowl are already starting to arrive. We saw groups of Northern Shovelers and Gadwalls at the Meadows (as well as some Ruddy Ducks and American Wigeons at the Point).
  • Common Buckeyes. We saw a few Common Buckeye butterflies fluttering around the paths.

Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye (Image by BirdNation)

Overall, we saw 31 species for our October Big Day (60 species for the May Big Day at Forsythe NWR. It’s always a joy to go birding in Cape May, especially during fall migration.

Tell us some of the migrants you’ve been seeing in your area in the comment section!

Global Big Day Update

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/eBird released the results of last Saturday’s Global Big Day. This year’s big day set a record of 6,899 species in a single day. Over 28,000 people in 170 countries participated in the event.

Colombia reported the most bird species for the second year in a row, with 1,546 species in 24 hours. The top ten countries by species include:

  1. Colombia -1,546
  2. Peru – 1,491
  3. Ecuador- 1,156
  4. Brazil – 1,038
  5. Venezuela- 757
  6. Panama – 750
  7. Mexico – 746
  8. United States – 717
  9. Bolivia – 700
  10. Argentina – 695

If you want to read the full report from eBird, click this link . eBird website

We had a great day birding at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR for Global Big Day. You can read about our day at BirdNation’s Global Big Day.

eBird will be having another “big day” event on October 6, so mark your calendars! Meanwhile, this upcoming Saturday, May 12, has 2 birding events: International Migratory Bird Day and The World Series of Birding. Get you binoculars ready for another great birding weekend! 😀

Global Big Day 2018

Are you ready for Global Big Day? It’s Saturday, May 5th!

(Image via Cornell Lab of Ornithology/ ebird.org/news)

What is Global Big Day?

Global Big Day is an event created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The goal is to see how many birds can be counted from all around the world in a single day. More than 150 countries participate in the count. In 2017, over 6,659 species were reported in one day. That’s 65% of the world’s bird species! This year is expected to be even bigger.

2018 is the Year of the Bird, so if you’ve never participated before it’s a great time to start! (and spread some love for Year of the Bird on social media #birdyourworld)

“Sounds awesome! How did I participate?”

  1. Set up your free eBird account. It only takes a minute, and you’ll be able to record all your future sightings/trips once you are set up.
  2. Go birding on May 5. It doesn’t matter how long you’re birding, just record as many species as you see/hear.
  3. Report your data and watch as the sightings roll in at the eBird website. 

Team BirdNation will definitely be out participating in Global Big Day. We plan on birding at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR. Have fun participating!

If you’d like to learn more information, check out the official Global Big Day page, https://ebird.org/news/global-big-day-5-may-2018

Ready to Count Some Birds?

Are you ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count? It’s only a few days away!

The 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is Friday, February 16 to Monday, February 19. This worldwide citizen science project is organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with the National Audubon Society.

Participating is easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Pick any location.
  2. Spend at least 15 minutes in that location and count as many birds as you can.
  3. Submit your findings on ebird.org

And voilà! You just had tons of fun and helped scientists at the same time!

Wait…how did you help scientists?

The data that you submit on eBird is used by scientists to keep track of  bird populations in real time. The count takes place in February so ornithologists can see where birds are before spring migration occurs. The data collected also helps them understand how weather/climate change/diseases affect the timing of migration and  to observe the avian biodiversity in different habitats around the world. As data builds up each year, scientists are able to compare how populations have been influenced over a longer period of time.

In 2017, birders from over 100 countries reported more than 6,200 species of birds in the 4-day period. That’s over half of the world’s bird species!

I can’t wait to see what the 2018 GBBC brings. I will be reporting the findings of our bird count throughout the weekend as I have done in past years. I hope you’ll join me and the thousands of other birders this weekend for this awesome event!

Find out more at gbbc.birdcount.org. Let me know in the comments if you plan to participating!

Photo courtesy of the gbbc.birdcount.org





Happy Bird Day!

Today, January 5, is National Bird Day! It’s a day to celebrate the lives of our avian friends and promote awareness of critical issues that birds face.

In honor of this day, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, Birdlife International, and National Geographic announced that 2018 is the Year of the Bird.

2018 is the centennial year of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the law that protects migratory birds of North America. The four conservation organization, plus another hundred or so participating groups, will be spreading awareness of avian issues to the public through multiple outlets all year.

How can you get involved in the Year of the Bird?

One of the goals of Year of the Bird is to educate that public that small, meaningful actions to help birds can make a huge difference.

You can sign the pledge to receive the Year of the Bird newsletter. Each month, you’ll receive an e-mail that will give you ideas on steps you can take to help birds. You can sign the pledge at the official Year of the Bird website:


And don’t forget to spread the word to your friends and family in person and with the hashtag #birdyourworld on social media.

I hope you can join the cause! The birds are worth it 🙂

Happy Bird Day!

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Image by David Horowitz)




My New Avian Journey

So yesterday, I teased that I would be starting a new bird-related journey soon. Well, without further ado:



I will be taking the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Comprehensive course in Bird Biology!

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I’m sure you know that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is one of my favorite places. It’s one of my main sources of avian information and we even took our 2016 vacation to Ithaca, NY specifically to go birding at the Lab (you can read about that here and here). As a Lab member, I’ve spent countless hours on their website reading articles, watching videos, taking webinars, and watching bird cams.

So when I learned about their Bird Biology class, I knew I had to take it. My dream is to be a Conservation Biologist/Environmental Scientist/Ornithologist, which is why when I’m not at my non-science related full-time job, I’m taking night/summer classes as a biology major. But when I found out about the Lab’s course, I knew it would exactly what I needed to start moving forward with my goals.

The Lab’s Bird Biology course is a university-level self-study course that anyone interesting in birds can take. The course was developed was by one of my favorite ornithologists, Dr. Kevin McGowan, as well as Dr. Sarah Wagner. (Side note: I took a webinar with Kevin McGowan a few winters ago: Odd Ducks and Wandering Waterfowl. If you’re interested in identification courses I recommend checking out his classes/webinars). The course consists of using the textbook (pictured above) and online resources, as well as multiple tests and quizzes for each chapter.

Pretty much anything you would want to know about birds can be found in this course. Topics covered throughout the 700-page book include anatomy, evolution, migration, vocal behavior, social behavior, ecology of populations, and flight to name a few topics. I’m so excited to dive even further into the avian world and share some of the information I learn with you!

If your interesting in learning about the Cornell Lab’s Bird Biology course check out their website.