Tall, brown dead yew bush; male cardinal sits in bare spot in middle of bush
Curing the Gardening Phobia

Do You Call Them LBT’s?

So the minimalists are telling us to fill our lives not with things, but with experiences. The mindfulness experts are guiding us to be fully present in each moment. Psychologists are warning us to put the devices down and do some face-to-face. Doctors are writing nature prescriptions.

With party season over, are you getting in your quota of fully present, face-to-face experiences? 

Well, a small but mighty event is coming up that you still have a chance to participate in. It is guaranteed to be rewarding…dropping you right into rich, face-to-face moments with family and friends.

Better Than a Movie or TV

empty office desk chair with jacket on back of chair. Desk has computer on it with blank screens.

Imagine meeting a neighbor over the fence and sharing happy moments of excitement…getting out of your lab into the real world of outdoors discovery…shutting down your computer on Friday…leaving the laptop at work…and spending the weekend giving your children a foundation for a lifetime of secure happiness…

Transport yourself away from that spreadsheet that won’t balance…and for 30 minutes, travel to the treetops…

Instead of watching a naturalist on PBS guide you through Yellowstone Park, become one yourself at minimal cost and maximum benefit…gaining a topic of conversation beyond the weather with coworkers and neighbors, as you meet in the pantry or in your condo hallway.

But I Like Numbers…

Feed dinner table conversation for weeks to come…and it can all happen with minimal preparation…in an event that will last only 30 minutes.

It’s coming the weekend of February 15, and will be shared around the world. It will draw the attention of more people than attended any single World Cup game. Last year, over 100,000 people around the world participated.

If you’re an introvert, and don’t like the sound of those statistics, don’t worry. All these people were joined by time and interest…not by stadium walls. They were all looking up to the skies at the same time, anticipating tens of millions of small things to come…

These numbers are no exaggeration.

We’re talking about the Great Backyard Bird Count.

bright blue background with title, The Great Backyard Bird Count, with 2 colorful, stylized birds on the right
2019 GBBC Site

And here are the numbers:

  • Last year 180,666 checklists were submitted online.
  • Total species observed: 6,459
  • Total individual birds counted: 28,903,945
  • Total number of countries participating: virtually every one in the world

It’s not too late…you can be a part of it!

But I Still Call Them LBT’s!

This will be the last year that you will look at a bird and call it a “little brown thing.” Mastery is at hand! Except don’t bother trying to learn all the types of sparrows. I never have…never will… just learning names of 2 colorful birds in your area will be immensely satisfying.

The website has tons of tools for you—everything you need to identify the birds that fly into your own backyard.

List of links on the Great Backyard Bird Count website that open up tools to help you identify birds

Get started at gbbc.birdcount.org

The Great Backyard Bird Count is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies of Canada, and the Audubon Society. They have plenty of tools to help you.

When you get to the site, look down the right side for a list of birds to look for in your area. Download the one that you need.

You will also find a list of bird ID apps to help you identify all the evolved dinosaurs that fly into your backyard. 

Also, make sure to watch the slideshow. It shows you how to count the bird species you see, and how to report your list.

But I Don’t Have a Backyard…

No worries. 4 categories of watching allow you to make citizen scientist observations wherever you are. You can go to a park, or take a walk and watch as you go. You can “bird,” as they say, in 4 modes: Traveling, Stationary, Historical, or Incidental.

Google map with large golden arrow pointing to an empty search field; question on top says "Where did you bird?"

So if you’ll be on the road…make sure to keep your camera handy to capture anything spectacular…or ordinary…that you see. Just make a mental note of where you were when you saw it. 

This type of sighting fits the Incidental category—when birding was not your primary purpose.

The rest are described on the website. You’ll see tools, just like the one above, that will help you to fit in any activity for this event.

Do I Have to Take Pictures?

No. But you might want to. This is the main reason for involving the whole family, or a small group of friends or neighbors. A few people can use the binoculars…and others can take pictures…

Or you can hand the tools back and forth. But you are NOT required to take any pictures at all. However, photos can help the scientists confirm rare sightings–and maybe you’ll see something rare! And for those who like competition, there is a photo contest every year. You just might win!

How Can Home Schoolers Participate?

Field Trip Day!!! This is the event you have been waiting for! Make it a great science lesson. Teach children how to make observations…just like real scientists.

black, ball style bird feeder with 3 birds clinging: a red and brown bird, a brown bird with black stripes on wings, and a dark gray bird with white neck

They will learn to report their observations on the website. You might want to develop this into an opportunity to set up a bird feeder in your yard.

If you want a bird feeder, set it up this weekend to give birds about a week to find it.

If you have other home school friends in other parts of the country…plan a FaceTime or Skype-sharing lesson for the week after. Let kids describe to each other the birds they saw and share pictures. They’ll have a blast!

The Great Outdoors

Put the device down…turn off TV…in only 30 minutes, you can find happiness in your own backyard…

Ask questions below. Share with us your adventures, frustrations, what you saw and how much fun it was! Leave a comment below. 

We're in this together! Let us know what you think!