TNP_2022 Great Backyard Bird Count

Blog By Joan Greene, Tennessee Naturalist Program __ Photo: Common or European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count 2022 begins Friday, February 18 through Monday, February 21.  This year the bird count (GBBC) is celebrating 25 years of people across the globe coming together to enjoy and document birds.  The count was co-founded by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Originally the Great Backyard Bird Count was held in the U.S. and Canada each February to create a snapshot of the distribution of birds just before spring migrations ramped up in March. Today the Great Backyard Bird Count has participants in over 100 countries.  

This is an opportunity for Tennessee Naturalist Program students and alumni to share their love of nature with family and friends.  It is also an excellent way to get to know what birds live in your neighborhood.  Check out your various TNP Chapters for activities that they may have during the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Many of our Tennessee State Parks have events planned too.

The Great Backyard Bird Count represents an opportunity to take a four-day snapshot of bird populations around the world.  

Sandhill Cranes, Antigone canadensis Photo by and courtesy of Ronald Manley

How to Participate:

Spend time on and see the various ways to record your count.

Decide where you will watch birds.

Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days of the Bird Count and count all the birds you see and hear within your planned location.

Share your sightings.

Go to: for tools to help identify and share your bird count sightings.  You can download the The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Merlin Bird ID app at 

Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus

Why count birds?  Conversation - It allows researchers to understand change in numbers over time, which is often one of the most important measures of how well a bird species is doing.

The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970.  In other words there are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago. In 2019, a benchmark study published in the Journal of Science detailed these results.  Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction. But the 2019 study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, revealed steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Regulus calendula Photo by and courtesy of Ronald Manley

A team of researchers from universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations collaborated on the study. For decades, professional ornithologists have been assisted by an army of devoted amateur bird-watchers who submit their observations to databases and help carry out surveys of bird populations each year.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a fun and easy way to make a difference in your environment. Groups like the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and have created tools that make it easy to identify and log your observations.  Can we count you in for the 2022 Great Backyard Bird Count?

Eastern Blue Bird, Sialia sialis

Resources and notes to TNP Students and Alumni:

Birds of Tennessee Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

Available from Amazon and local booksellers.

Backyard Birds (Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists)

Available from Amazon and local booksellers.

Note to TNP students and alumni: The time spent on counting birds for this four day event can be logged as volunteer hours.  Students should enter each day that you take part in the count as a separate entry.  For volunteer supervisor, list Cornell Lab. If you have questions check with your TNP Chapter Coordinator.

Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum

Learn more about becoming a Tennessee Naturalist at .