Great Backyard Bird Count — coming to a backyard near you!

Great Backyard Bird Count

This weekend birders of all shapes and sizes will head to their back windows, or maybe even outside into their backyards and count birds.

I had heard of this event in the past, but did not have any interested kids. Well, today in our science we read about it once again. The book said it took place sometime in February, so I jumped online to see when. And, it is this coming weekend! February 18-21, 2011, you are encouraged to spend 15 minutes at least one day counting birds in your yard or other outdoor area.

There are a few organized events in Illinois:


GBBC event
February 19, 9:00-Noon
Peck Farm Park Interpretive Center
4038 Kaneville Road, Geneva, IL
Contact: Tina Rossi, (630) 262-8244,


GBBC participation
February 19, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Citizens Park, Jewel Pavilion, 511 Lake Zurich Road, Barrington, IL
For ages 4 and up, Cost: $5 per child, families with multiple children pay $1 for each additional child. Registration is required.
Contact:Citizens for Conservation, (847) 382-SAVE (7283),


GBBC activities
February Noon-2:00 PM
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
Join our celebration of the 2011 Great Backyard Bird Count! Learn bird watching skills and discover how your family can participate in this year’s bird count. Compete in the Bird Olympics to test your athletic abilities against those of local bird species. Fun for all ages!
Contact: (773) 755-5126,


GBBC participation
February 19, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Anita Purves Nature Center, 1505 N Broadway, Urbana, IL
Join Champaign County Audubon Society members and Anita Purves Nature Center staff as we make an important contribution to conservation by counting birds for the GBBC. Help identify and count the birds at feeding stations and along trails in Busey Woods. Dress for the weather and bring binoculars if you have them. Free! All ages (under 15 with adult)
Contact: (217) 384-4062

If you would rather spend time on your own in your own space there are lots of resources at the Great Backyard Bird Count website:

Ideas just for us educators including bird feeder construction, backyard activities, and ideas for getting kids involved.

Links to more sites with information about bird identification.

– A page to input your zipcode and come up with a list of birds you might expect to see. This is a great tool to look at ahead of time to be prepared for quick identification during the count.

We also enjoy the site “What Bird?” for bird identifications. It helped us identify a flock of Sandhill Cranes that passed over our house last year. You need to be observant, and the longer you do it, the more you know what to look for. I still have a lot to learn to advance beyond a casual birder, but it is a fun activity, and something all ages can enjoy together.

When it’s all over, don’t forget to jump online and submit your count to the official database.