Birding for a Cause!

If you are a birdwatcher, this event is for you! The Great (Global) Backyard Bird Count, or GBBC (http://www.birdcount.in/events/gbbc2016/), is the world’s largest bird-a-thon. Tens of thousands of birdwatchers from over 100 countries are expected to take part in this annual four-day endeavour to create a snapshot of the world’s birds. Unlike many other birding events, the GBBC has no targets in terms of seeing rare species or the highest number of species. Instead, the most important thing is to spend time looking for birds, and the rest will follow. During last year’s GBBC, 5,090 species were reported, nearly half of all the birds in the world!

Here in India, we have been taking part in the GBBC since 2013, and India is gradually becoming more prominent in the global birding scene. For example, in GBBC 2015, nearly a thousand birdwatchers from all corners of the country uploaded over 7,000 birdlists (the third highest number, after USA and Canada), containing 735 species (the second highest number, after Ecuador). Of the top ten birders in terms of number of birdlists contributed, six were from India!

As a snapshot of our birds, what did the 2015 GBBC find? The Common Myna turned out to be the most common and widespread of our birds, followed by Red-vented Bulbul, and then Rock Pigeon, House Crow and Black Kite. See more results here (bit.ly/1Kl0QBR). The idea is that these findings, for both common and rare species, can be compared from year to year to look for changes.

GBBC-India 2015 Summary

GBBC-India 2015 Summary

An India-specific sister event to the GBBC is the Campus Bird Count (http://www.birdcount.in/events/gbbc2016/campus-bird-count-2016/), in which educational and institutional campuses across the country are invited to document their birds each year. Last year, 84 campuses took part, including schools, colleges, universities, research institutions, and even a hospital! Collectively they documented 414 species, which shows how valuable campuses can serve as green spaces. Over 100 campuses are expected to take part in this year’s Campus Bird Count.

Taking part in the GBBC is very easy. You don’t have to go to some far-off place (although you can if you wish!). Just step outdoors and look for birds from your balcony or garden, at a local park or a lake. Spend at least 15 minutes watching birds, and upload your list, with counts for each species, to the online bird listing platform eBird (http://ebird.org/india). During the four days of the GBBC, you can repeat this as often as you like – from the same spot, or from several different locations.

Photo credits (L to R) – Ravi Viswanathan, Raman Kumar, Radha Rangarajan

Photo credits (L to R) – Ravi Viswanathan, Raman Kumar, Radha Rangarajan

 

Why take part? Most importantly, because it’s fun! It’s an opportunity to go birdwatching as part of a global endeavour to generate a snapshot of bird occurrence. In addition, it provides a wonderful occasion to introduce birdwatching to your family and friends. Who knows, they may also catch the birding bug! And, if you would like, you could organize a bird walk or a bird talk for members of the public to join in. For more, including for links to resources, Facebook events, and more, please visit Bird Count India (http://www.birdcount.in), which coordinates the GBBC in India.