Bird lovers: It's time to go birdwatching this weekend — in your backyard. The Great Backyard Bird Count — hosted by Audubon and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology — needs your help counting birds from Feb. 17 to Feb. 20.

Why should you participate? Your leisurely survey — collected with everyone else’s backyard fun — will “create an instantaneous snapshot of birdlife across the U.S. and Canada for all to see,” according to the Count’s website.

And you don’t need to make a huge time commitment to be a citizen scientist. Just 15 minutes spent surveying the skies and the landscape is enough. To prepare, print out a regional bird checklist so you have a sense of what to expect. Post-count, enter your data on the Count’s results page before March 1.

If you’ve got a camera, you can win prizes by entering the photo competition, too.

Think birdwatching is more fun as a group activity? Local events are happening across the U.S. and Canada, so make the Great Backyard Bird Count an opportunity to make new birding friends.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in February 2011.