Count the birds this Valentines Day, in Bengaluru

It's that time of the year when people world-over quietly lie in wait, with necks craned up and cameras in hand, looking out for the wonderful creatures that ply the skies. Participate in the Great Global Backyard Bird Count 2015.


“My favourite weather is bird chirping weather.” – Terri Guillemets

It is a rather rare occasion when people from around the world get together for a common cause. When it happens, it makes for a marvelous spectacle. The Great Global Backyard Bird Count is one such event, where tens of thousands of people, though separated by geography, are one in spirit. What makes it truly spectacular are the sights that these good folks will be witness to.  

This weekend marks the 18th edition of the Great (Global) Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society in 1998, GBBC was the one of the first online science projects to crowd-source data on birds in the wild. And since its launch, the number of people participating to publicly share data about birds in their natural habitat has only increased. 

The GBBC for this year, started on February 13th and will go on until February 16th. On any or all days of the Bird Count, people are expected to spend a minimum of 15 minutes to identify different species of birds and their approximate numbers. These observations should be submitted on the GBBC website. The data collected helps create a record of the distribution of birds in the wild.

How can you participate?

  • To participate, create a profile on the GBBC site.
  • Count as many birds as you can on one or all days of the GBBC and make a note of what you see – which species of bird(s), how many of them and where they were spotted.
  • Submit your observations on the GBBC website. You could also download one of the Birding apps to make your submission.

For more information on what you should do to get started, click here.

And there’s no need to worry if you are an amateur birder, the GBBC website has suggestions that will help you identify the birds that you see. You could also go along with an experienced birder – doing this could possibly increase your chances of spotting and identifying more species of birds.

What to do in Bengaluru?

Participate in the Bangalore Bird Count: Supported by Bird Count India, the Bangalore Bird Count (BBC) is a birding event that coincides with the GBBC. An event that looks to balance coverage as well as fun, groups of birders are being deputed to various parts of the city in a quest to identify birds. To register, drop a mail to Praveen J on

Painted stork (IUCN category 2013 – nearly threatened) at Kaikondrahalli Lake. Pic: Deepa Mohan

At the 2014 BBC, 105 participants identified 225 species of birds on a single day. Of this around 13 were Red Data species (critically endangered/endangered/near-threatened/vulnerable species). With the 3rd edition of the BBC slated to happen across February 14th and 15th, it is only certain that both numbers will increase. For more information on the BBC, click here.

Shoot the birder

For those of you with an interest in birding and photography, there’s no better time to shoot than now. Participate in the Bird Count India Photo Contest. The theme for this year’s contest is ‘People watching birds’. Take pictures of people watching birds and upload them on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #GBBC2015Photos. You could also email your pictures to The last date for submitting entries is February 23rd. For more details , click here.

Sandhill Cranes by Georgia Wilson, Florida; Winner of the GBBC Photo Contest 2014 in the Overall category. Pic: GBBC website

GBBC too has a photo contest running parallely. The deadline for submission is March 1st. Details can be found here. You can also view pictures from last year’s contest here.

Campus Bird Count: If you live, work or study on a campus that is a birding hotspot (for eg, IISc), you could get your residents association/organisation/institution to enrol for the event. Round up a bunch of birding enthusiasts from your campus and get to work. Some of the city’s top institutions like Christ College, IISc and Mount Carmel College are participating too. You’ll find more information on the Campus Bird Count here.  

Going solo: You could also do this on your own, right where you are. Make a list of the birds that you see and upload them on GBBC. But we’re sure its will be lots more fun when you are with other enthusiastic birders.  

Any place that is abundant in trees or has a water body, is bound to have its fair share of birds too. You could make a trip to one of Bengaluru’s many lakes and parks, and you can be rest assured that you’ll spot a good number of species of birds. You could also combine your birding with Neralu, Bengaluru’s very own tree festival that is being held at Cubbon Park on February 14th.

For some more inspiration on what you could do to participate in GBBC, check out the Event Ideas that Bird Count India has put up.

Why should you participate?

A sparrow with nesting material, Ragihalli Village. Pic: Deepa Mohan

Consider the number of sparrows that you can spot in Bengaluru nowadays. They were found in abundance two decades ago. The burgeoning development in the city has resulted in loss of habitat or possibly even food sources for the sparrow. While one can still spot them in areas like KR Market and Shivajinagar where old buildings are still a prominent feature, it is a rarity to find them in a commercial area like Electronic City. (Read: The Sparrow – Concerns and conservation on India Together).

The information collected from GBBC gives an annual snapshot of bird populations across the world and their health. It also helps scientists understand the big picture – how they are affected by environmental changes, their migratory patterns etc.  

And while it has been less than a day since the 2015 edition of the Bird Count started, a whopping 54,526 birds belonging to 1,052 species have been identified already, of which 124 species have been recorded from Karnataka alone (as on February 13th, 5.55 pm IST). So make sure you step out of your houses armed with our camera and notepad, and spot them birds.  

Additional Resources

Related Articles

Birds of summer in Bengaluru
What to do if you find an injured bird or animal
Birds leave the fashion to the males
Lots of birds at Kaikondrahalli Lake
The Great Backyard Bird Count
Puttenahalli Lake Bird Count

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