Great American Back Yard Bird Watch Results

2017 GBBC Summary

March 3, 2017
By Marshall Iliff and Pat Leonard

Another Great Backyard Bird Count is in the books, and thanks to participants from around the world, it was the biggest count in its 20-year history. Bird watchers set a new high bar for number of checklists submitted and total number of species reported. Whether longtime contributors or first-timers, many expressed their enjoyment of the experience.

Downy Woodpecker by Shelia Rudesill, North Carolina, 2017 GBBC.

Downy Woodpecker by Shelia Rudesill,

North Carolina, 2017 GBBC.

Schoolchildren in Memphis, Tennessee, clearly had fun with their count. Their teacher wrote to say:

“Our school ‘Backyard Bird Watch’ event was wonderful. As a second grader told the adult leader of her group, ‘This is the best day of my life! I got to see a Downy Woodpecker.’ ”  

We hope many of you experienced a similar thrill during the count!

Let’s look at some of the numbers as of the afternoon of March 3, 2017–they’re pretty impressive!

Estimated Participants: 214,018 (2016 final total estimate: 163,763)

Species: 5,940 (2016 final total: 5,689)

Complete Checklists: 173,826 (2016 final total: 162,052)

Note that some of the numbers may still change slightly as the final checklists for the GBBC dates are added through eBird or flagged reports are validated by our reviewers. Our Top 10 lists tell a few stories, too.

Top 10 most frequently reported species:

(number of GBBC checklists reporting this species)

What’s interesting to note in this list is that the American Crow has bounced all the way up to the number two spot. It has typically come in near the bottom of the Top 10 ever since West Nile Virus appeared in North America in 1999. Perhaps the crows are finally rebounding after the virus took a serious toll on their overall population.


Number of Checklists

Northern Cardinal


American Crow


Mourning Dove


Dark-eyed Junco


Downy Woodpecker


Blue Jay


Black-capped Chickadee


House Finch


House Sparrow


White-breasted Nuthatch


Data totals as of March 3, 2017

Note: All Top 10 species are common in North America, reflecting continued high participation from this region.

Top 10 most numerous species:

(sum of how many individuals were observed across all GBBC checklists):


Number of Individuals

Snow Goose


Red-winged Blackbird


Canada Goose


European Starling




Ring-billed Gull


American Coot


Greater White-fronted Goose


Common Grackle


American Crow


Data totals as of March 2, 2017

Note: These Top 10 species are common in North America, reflecting high participation from this region.

1 Comment

  1. Pat Salisbury:

    We see the piliated woodpecker.. He or she was at our trees this morning.

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