Apartment Birding: My Bird-a-thon Experience

By Andrea Villanueva

Since 2020, The Great Basin Bird Observatory (GBBO) has hosted its annual Bird-a-thon. The Bird-a-thon is a state-wide birding event and fundraiser for bird conservation. Proceeds from the Nevada Bird-a-thon go towards community science projects and research benefiting some of Nevada’s species in greatest need, such as Pinyon Jays. Teams and individuals are invited to participate by choosing one 24-hour period between certain dates and then record as many bird species within Nevada as possible. GBBO offers a variety of categories to compete in. From a 24 hour Big Day category to a multi-day Backyard Birding one, the Nevada Bird-a-thon is easy to participate in for everyone that might have time or transportation constraints. 

In 2022, I had the pleasure of being a first-time participant. As someone who lacks reliable transportation, lives in an apartment with no yard, and works two jobs, I was ecstatic that GBBO offered such accommodating categories. Once I learned that I can participate in the apartment/urban yard category and collect my bird species data over 10 days, I was more than happy to participate. Sign-up was easy and I even got to name my team of 1 a cool name! I decided to give myself the alias Grackle Gal due to the extensive amount of grackles that hang around my apartment's trash cans. Once I signed up I was eager to see what I can find in an area with limited green spaces. 

On my first day, I was a little unsure that I was even going to see anything besides the Great-tailed Grackles, but to my surprise, even the little patch of grass in front of my apartment was filled with life! I did indeed see many grackles, but throughout my time participating in the Bird-a-thon I saw Mourning Doves, Rock Doves, House Finches, House Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and a variety of other species I couldn’t even identify at the time! It was a pleasant surprise to find that I can find so many birds even in an urban space. I had a great time exploring my apartment complex, and I even got the chance to explain the Bird-a-thon and birding in general to a few of my curious neighbors. After my days of bird-watching at home, I certainly had a new appreciation for my living space. 

Now that a year has passed I am ready for 2023’s Bird-a-thon. I will be participating in the apartment birding category once again, but this time I will start with a new zest for my apartment complex adventure. I’ve learned about so many new species that I can find around my apartment just this past year. I am positive I will have many more species to add to my checklist this time. For those of you who are unsure about participating in the Bird-a-thon due to transportation or time constraints, I encourage you to check out all the categories

 GBBO is offering this year. You might find something that works for you. If you don’t participate, you can always help support the cause by donating. Either way supporting the Bird-a-thon helps conservation efforts and is a great way to help protect vulnerable species like the Pinyon jay.