Public data entry for the Great Backyard Bird Count ended last week, but behind the scenes there is still a lot of work to do. We have over 90 regional reviewers sifting through the unusual records and trying to clean up the data. We are still missing reports of many species, especially in Hawaii--so we're contacting observers there who might have additional species to report. We're also starting to look at the results from this year--including some interesting trends. Northern Pintail numbers are down, which may be further evidence that this species is continuing its precipitous population decline. Hooded Merganser numbers are way up this year, so there might be something intersting going on there. American Crow numbers are down a bit on a per checklist basis, perhaps indicating continued problems with West Nile Virus mortality.
The GBBC is an imperfect instrument, but by creating a snapshot of bird populations during mid February each year, it gives us a first look at how birds are doing across the continent. Sometimes, as in the cases mentioned above, we see things that make us look more closely at how some species are doing to see if we can otherwise verify trends that show up on the count, and perhaps identify the causes of the trends.
The fun thing is, anyone can take a look at the maps and the data for all of the past GBBCs. By exploring the maps, or the yearly counts, maybe you can spot an interesting trend that nobody has noticed yet!