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“Great Backyard Bird Count” is a fun activity for Family Day

February 15, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Jim Stewart

The “Great Backyard Bird Count”—which takes place on February 16, 17, 18, and 19—is a bird-watching and bird-counting event organized by Birds Canada, the National Audubon Society, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Its purpose is to take stock of bird populations before they begin annual migrations across the world.

Enjoying a charm of goldfinches enjoying seeds at backyard feeders is one way of participating in the Bird Count, but trips to the forests and fields of the GTA during the Family Day Weekend are other ways to help bird conservation organizations track avian populations. The annual event is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited which provides timely advice and supplies for aspiring birders. 

During our interview on the weekend, WBU Store Manager and conservationist Kristen Martyn offered readers some timely tips about how to get involved with this important global Bird Count and how to assist with bird conservation strategies already in place and supported by Birds Canada and Cornell U:

Caledon Citizen: Please discuss the live bird feeder cam that is sponsored by the Wild Birds Unlimited stores. 

Kristen Martyn: We wanted to create a virtual wild bird experience for people to help foster an appreciation for backyard birds. One way we thought we could do this was through live bird feeding stations. We sponsor two cameras year-round (Backyard Bird Feeding Cam and the Ground Feeding Cam). Seasonally, we introduce a live Hummingbird Cam and we hope to introduce a live Nesting Cam soon. We hope that through these experiences people can connect further to the birds and get an up-close view of their sometimes secretive lives while being non-intrusive to the birds. It’s been so much fun we just had our 33rd species make an appearance on our live cam and we anticipate many more new species this spring. We’ve gotten such great feedback from people on the live cams, it’s been such an exciting new experience for us. Our sponsored cameras can all be viewed by visiting 

Caledon Citizen: What is the process by which Peel Region residents can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count?

Kristen Martyn: Participation is easy and free. All you need to do is identify and count the birds you see in your yard (or any other location you wish) for at least 15 mins February 16-19, 2024. You can participate on all days or whichever day(s) you are available to do so. After your count is complete you upload your results on (registration is free). If you are new to bird identification, the Merlin Bird ID app is a great tool. If you have participated in the count before you can upload your results on the eBird Mobile app or on For more information on how to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count visit

Caledon Citizen:  How does Wild Birds Unlimited contribute to bird conservation initiatives?

Kristen Martyn: Wild Birds Unlimited sponsors a number of nature and conservation organizations including larger nationwide organizations (Bird Studies Canada, Lab of Ornithology etc.) and at the local level (Shades of Hope, Ducks Unlimited, York Simcoe Nature Club etc.). We are proud to be the founding sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Our sponsorships and donations fund a wide variety of projects, everything from sending young people to nature camps to helping local rehabbers continue the important work that they do. At our core, we are bird and nature lovers who are passionate about the birds and are committed to assisting a wide variety of educational and conservation initiatives.

Caledon Citizen:  How do events like the Great Backyard Bird Count raise awareness about the urgency to protect birds and their habitat? 

Kristen Martyn: I believe that the GBBC helps to bring awareness to the birds and wildlife in our own backyards or natural places we cherish (local parks, conservation areas etc.). At its core the GBBC gets people involved in grassroots conservation via citizen science. People are participating and contributing to an important data set that will ultimately help researchers and the public understand bird population trends over time. The results of this data will help us to understand what’s happening with our bird populations and how important it is to not only protect existing habitat but contribute to creating habitat in our yards for wildlife. I believe that the act of participating in citizen science projects such as the GBBC creates a special interest which fosters long term stewardship of our birds and establishes the connection to help with their conservation.

As noted in a recent statement by Cornell University, a world without birds would be “catastrophic.”

Bird populations have declined precipitously since 1970 largely due to loss of habitat.

Protecting the Green Belt—particularly the Oak Ridges Moraine from Caledon to Uxbridge – and planting trees and native plants are crucial acts to help bird populations in Peel, York, and Durham Region.

Creating a sanctuary of feeders and bird baths in your backyard is a complementary form of sustenance for the birds affected by urban sprawl.



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