Technology for the Birds | TechWell

Technology for the Birds

Here’s an event to schedule in your digital calendar for the weekend of February 12–15, 2016. Yes, it is Valentine’s Day weekend, but it’s also a chance to give Mother Nature a valentine by participating in the online annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) to help create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Hint: Is your birdfeeder currently stocked?

To contribute to this year’s GBBC, simply count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as you wish) on one or more days throughout the four-day period, and log in your sightings online at Or, download the free eBird Mobile app to enter sightings on mobile iOS and Android devices. You can count birds in as many locations as you like—simply look out your kitchen window or go to a park. The Explore a Region tool gives you an idea of what birds you can expect to see in your area.

What if you’re not sure if you’re looking at a Black-capped or Carolina Chickadee? In addition to the “Sibley Field Guide to Birds,” here are some helpful free apps and websites suggested by the GBBC website.

  • The Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will suggest the most likely species based on your answers to five questions, such as the bird’s size, what it was doing, and when you saw it. 
  • The Audubon Bird Guide app has sounds, images, and range maps of more than 800 North American species.
  • The web-based Merlin Bird Photo ID beta program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Visipedia is designed as a “birding coach” for beginning and intermediate bird watchers. Users upload an image, and the computer identifies the bird.
  • Cornell’s online bird guide on the All About Birds website has descriptions of more than 600 North American species, with photos and sound recordings, along with a wealth of information about feeding birds.

The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society that helps researchers track the health of bird populations at a scale otherwise not possible without citizen scientists.

If you’re not already hooked on bird watching, get started now by eagle watching online via nest cams. A great site to watch is the live video feeds of the bald eagle nest at Berry College in Rome, GA. The eagle couple has two eggs in their nest, and the hatch watch is on!

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