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.

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count
Take 15 minutes to count up the birds you see in your neighborhood this weekend to contribute to this citizen scientist project.