Between Feb. 14 and 17, residents can be part of the Great Backyard Bird Count

Have you been listening to birdsong outside your window early in the mornings but never found the time to step out and watch the feathered friends?

If yes, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) beckons. Between February 14 and 17, individuals and groups can count birds for at least 15 minutes and be part of the event, which is coordinated by Cornell University to track the health of bird populations around the world.

Participants will have to document the number and kinds of birds they see and enter the sightings at www.ebird.org. According to the website, a smartphone app for iPhone and android is available for free till February 17 and can be used by bird enthusiasts to enter the data.

P. Jeganathan, an avid birder who conducted an orientation programme for the public in the city, is quite excited. “We watch birds every day but few of us write down what we have seen, I’ll be thrilled to see my bird list recorded,” he says.

A global event since 2013, the GBBC can help answer questions on the impact of habitat changes and weather on bird populations, and their distribution patterns.

“The GBBC gives an opportunity to young enthusiasts to be part of a more serious research endeavour. This makes their effort more than just a hobby. For many, this could be a doorway to conservation,” says Ravi Bhalla of the Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning, who is organizing counts at two lakes in Puducherry.

The event isn’t just for serious birdwatchers. “Although I watch birds in my backyard every day, it’s exciting to have a formalized birding event across the world,” says Janaki Lenin of Karadi Malai Camp, which is also organising counts during the GBBC.

Information about the GBBC in India is available at www.birdcount.in.