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woman holding binoculars

Jennifer observes our first find of the day: a male northern cardinal admiring his reflection in a car mirror.

Yesterday marked the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), an annual citizen-science project created to improve our understanding of bird populations worldwide.

More than 160,000 people participate each year, and you could be one of them! All you have to do is stay in one location for at least 15 minutes and count the number of individuals and species you see, then create a free GBBC account and submit your data—pretty easy, right?

If you’re not great at identifying birds, click here for a guide to the most commonly observed species in Florida.

We held a GBBC session at the Zoo yesterday and observed one anhinga, boat-tailed grackle and northern mockingbird; two blue jays, great blue herons and fish crows; three mourning doves; and four northern cardinals!

Researchers compile the data into a “big picture” used to assess how habitat loss, development, climate change and disease impact birds. These findings may be used to develop conservation management plans and inform public environmental policies.

The GBBC runs through Monday, but you can report your observations 365 days a year using the eBird app, which is available in the App Store and Google Play.