2020 GBBC Summary

March 13, 2020

You did it again! The 2020 Great Backyard Bird Count broke more records and attracted more participants than ever before. So, the first order of business is to extend our sincere gratitude to each of you for embracing the count and sharing your bird sightings! We hope you had fun and feel good about your contributions to the global maps and the data behind them.

Killdeer taking a bath

Killdeer taking a bath by Bill Winkler, Pennsylvania, GBBC 2020

Note the incredible jump from last year to this year. 

Species: 6,942 (last year 6,699)

Checklists: 249,444 (last year 204,921)

Estimated Participants: 268,674 (last year 224,781)

Some numbers may still change slightly as the final checklists for the GBBC dates are added through eBird or as flagged reports are validated by our reviewers and added to the database. Data above reflect website totals through March 10, 2020.

Top 10 Most Frequently Reported Species

Northern Cardinal by Cindy Sedlacek, New York, GBBC 2020

Northern Cardinal tops this list, as it nearly always does.  An exciting visitor to the most-frequently reported birds is the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Species Number of Checklists
Northern Cardinal 70,168
Dark-eyed Junco 59,318
Mourning Dove 58,361
Downy Woodpecker 52,276
Blue Jay 50,808
House Sparrow 49,180
House Finch 48,796
American Crow 48,639
Black-capped Chickadee 43,775
Red-bellied Woodpecker 40,826

Data totals as of March 10, 2020   

Note: This is the number of GBBC checklists reporting these species. All Top 10 species are common in North America, reflecting continued high participation from this region.


Top 10 Most Numerous Species

Snow Geese by Laura Frazier, Maryland, GBBC 2020

Snow Goose jumped to the top of this list bumping last year’s most numerous species, Red-winged Blackbird, to fifth place. As the image above makes abundantly clear, geese flock in large groups during the winter. Many Atlantic seaboard species stayed farther north this year due to historically milder weather.

Species Number of Individuals
Snow Goose 7,194,952
Common Murre 3,524,448
Canada Goose 2,046,596
blackbird sp. 1,950,137
Red-winged Blackbird 1,223,911
European Starling 1,117,755
Common Grackle 957,801
Ring-billed Gull 812,712
Mallard 778,553
Greater White-fronted Goose 759,459

Data totals as of March 10, 2020

Note: These are the sum of how many individuals were observed across all GBBC checklists. These Top 10 species are common in North America, reflecting high participation from this region.

California Quail by Patricia Ediger, Washington, GBBC 2020

Top 10 States by Checklists Submitted

Familiar birdy U.S. states populate the top 10 list for the greatest number of checklists submitted.  New York edged Texas and took over the second place spot, compared to last year.  Most states experienced record highs for the number of checklists submitted and none of the top 10 states were below 5,000. *New state checklist record.

State Number of Checklists
California 13,331*
New York 10,535*
Texas 10,193*
Florida 10,076*
Pennsylvania 8,899*
Virginia 7,088*
Ohio 7063*
North Carolina 6419*
Washington 6255*
Michigan 5314*

Data totals as of March 10, 2020


Top 10 Indian States by Checklists Submitted

Worldwide, India stood strong in the #2 spot for highest number of checklists submitted by country. Each year participation has grown in India with incredible numbers worth noting.

Yellow-eyed Babbler, Ankush Chowdhury, Uttarakhand, India, GBBC 2020

State Number of Checklists
Tamil Nadu 12,764
Kerala 3,701
Uttarakhand 2,568
Karnataka 2,104
Andhra Pradesh 1,464
Maharashtra 779
Assam 432
Himachal Pradesh 322
Madhya Pradesh 315
Delhi 314

Data totals as of March 10, 2020


Boreal Owl by Sylvie Desmeules, Quebec, Canada, GBBC 2020

Top 10 Canadian Provinces by Checklists Submitted

The top three provinces for number of checklists submitted from Canada were the same this year as last, with Nova Scotia jumping to fourth place. Several provinces set their own new checklist records and overall it was strong year for Canada. * New provincial checklist record  

Province Number of Checklists
Ontario 9,609*
British Columbia 3,499*
Quebec 3,041*
Nova Scotia 1373*
Alberta 1,255*
Manitoba 599
Saskatchewan 495*
New Brunswick 405
Newfoundland & Labrador 249*
Prince Edward Island 136

Data totals as of March 10, 2020


Collared Aracari by Andy Holwell, Costa Rica, GBBC 2020

Top 10 Countries by Checklists Submitted

Outside the U.S. and Canada, participation in the GBBC is rising steeply with India remaining the standout, trailing only the U.S. now. In fact, every country on the top-10 list set a new checklist record this year. The increase in checklists from Argentina is especially noteworthy, having tripled from 511 in the 2019 count to 1,550 checklists for the 2020 count! *New country checklist record.

Country Number of Checklists
United States 169,234*
India 26,979*
Canada 20,742*
Australia 3,163*
Spain 2,911*
Costa Rica 2,117*
Mexico 1,906*
Argentina 1,550*
Colombia 1,512*
United Kingdom 1,506*

Data totals as of March 10, 2020


Anhinga by Jeanne Kaufman, Florida, GBBC 2020

Top 10 Countries by Number of Species Reported

Two countries surpassed 1,000 species–congratulations Colombia and Ecuador! There were many other species records broken during the count, too.  *New country species number record.

Country Number of Species
Colombia 1,129*
Ecuador 1,082*
Brazil 935*
India 916*
Peru 838*
Mexico 743
Costa Rica 693*
United States 661
Argentina 641*
Thailand 590*

Data totals as of March 10, 2020


Trends & Highlights – U.S.

The Winter That Wasn’t

In much of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, the winter of 2020 was remarkable for its mildness. Few storms brought snow or ice and temperatures have been above average almost all winter long. Bird observations from this winter reflect that, with the following patterns especially apparent:

Common Merganser by James Harding, New Jersey, GBBC 2020

— Ducks and geese have overwintered farther north than usual, with fewer pushing south to mid-Atlantic states like Virginia.

— Half-hardy insectivorous birds, like Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Eastern Phoebe, have overwintered in northern areas in what may be record numbers.

Some cool rare species were reported in the U.S. during the count. They include:

Siberian Accentor by Mark Scheel, Washington, GBBC 2020

— A Siberan Accentor (“Sibe” or Siberian vagrant), a member of a family (Prunellidae) with no representatives in the New World. Dozens of people saw this bird near Woodland, Washington, on GBBC weekend.

— A Pink-footed Goose pleased birders in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Newfoundland.

— A pair of Barnacle Geese in Massachusetts also likely hailed from Greenland and were likewise especially unusual for mid-winter since most records are from fall or spring migration.        

Trends & Highlights – Canada

Canada’s GBBC participants found fewer winter finches this year due to the great cone and seed crop up north in the boreal forest of Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland. The great food crop, along with less snow and mild temperatures throughout much of Canada, resulted in many species of birds staying north.

Notable rare species reported in Canada during the count:

Slaty-backed Gull

Slaty-backed Gull by Charles Fitzpatrick, Newfoundland and Labrador, GBBC 2020

Slaty-backed Gull (left) is a western Pacific species that remains a red-letter bird anywhere in the Atlantic basin. This species is typically found in coastal areas of northeast Asia and occasionally along the Alaskan coast. But Charles Fitzpatrick found this gull in Newfoundland and Labrador, a superb hotspot for gull-watching, especially around St. John’s.

— A Pink-footed Goose was reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is only the second time this species has been found there in mid-winter.
An Eastern Phoebe turned up in Ontario, which is pretty impressive for this location in February and likely a sign of the milder winter.
In addition to the phoebe, other rare sightings underscoring the more moderate Canadian winter this year included Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting in Nova Scotia, both typically found much farther south, spread out through Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the southern tip of Florida at GBBC time.


More to Explore

These are just a few of the stories coming out of the 2020 GBBC. Delve into more details, including results from your region, with our Explore a Region tool. See what’s been reported across the world or in your neck of the woods. Or find out where a particular species has been reported using the Explore a Species tool.

Keep Counting with eBird!

eBirdPlease keep observing and reporting birds! Go directly to eBird to submit checklists using the same username and password you have for the GBBC. The data-entry process is the same. Please keep reporting birds—you can do so from anywhere in the world at any time of the year! Try the eBird Mobile app for iOS or Android to enter observations from the field. The information you supply is vital to scientists studying changes in the numbers and distributions of birds, and to conservation leaders who use the reports to craft targeted plans to conserve declining species. Keep up with the latest bird sightings and create your birding profile so you can share your excitement about birds with a like-minded community around the world. Head over to eBird.org.

Thank you for participating in the
Great Backyard Bird Count!

Thank you to GBBC founding sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited.