Counting Instructions

  1. Count birds anywhere you like for at LEAST 15 minutes—or for as long as you wish. Keep track of the kinds of birds you see and how long you watched.
  2. Make your best estimate of how many birds you saw of each species. For example, 5 Northern Cardinals, 3 American Crows. Huge flocks may be a challenge, but your best guess is still valuable.
  3. Enter your list(s) online

Put in a new checklist:

  • for each new day
  • for each different location
  • for the same location, same day, if you counted at a different time of day

Three Ways to Enter Data:

  1. Merlin Bird ID app
  2. eBird Mobile app
  3. eBird web page (desktops and laptops)

Note: You can start entering bird lists at midnight local time on the first day of the count, anywhere in the world. Data entry remains open until March 1, but the information you enter should only be from the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count.


Read below for specific details about how to set up a free account and enter your lists. If you already have a Cornell Lab account for eBird, Merlin Bird ID, Project Feederwatch, Nestwatch, etc. or, you can simply use that login information.

Do I need to create an Account?

If you have never participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count before, or have not participated since before 2013, you’ll need to set up an account. Merlin Bird ID app, eBird Mobile app or will walk you through the process of setting up an account. You will be asked to provide your name and email and choose a personal username and password. Additional profile information is optional.

Download Counting Instructions (PDF)