Global Big Day, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the biggest Citizen Science experiment on earth. With so many eyes in the sky, May 5, provides a unique opportunity for scientists to learn about bird species abundance and location for one day. These observations registered by us all on eBird provide the basis for conservation initiatives and to enact policies to favor habitat preservation. As more Global Big Days occur annually, they will build a valuable set of data that can be compared for trends from year to year.
Global Big Day competitive spirit
Global Big Day is also an opportunity for fundraising, fun, binge-birding and to gain a few bragging rights too. Birding clubs, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to participate in collaborative efforts and friendly competition (or not so friendly) to find out who can record the most species of birds in 24-hours using the power of eBird. Indeed, Global Big Day is the world cup of birding.
Global Big Day is massive
The event coincides with spring migration in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s a spectacular time to see a variety of birds in their breeding plumage. In 2015, the inaugural year of Global Big Day, 13,664 participants submitted 44,173 checklists across 135 countries. A total of 6,085 species were reported. Next year, Global Big Day 2016, brought 17,200 birders recording 6,334 species across 151 countries and provided 47,000 checklists. Finally, in last year Global Big Day, 20622 participants submitted 54735 checklists to ebird recording an astonishing 6636 species, or 65% of all existing birding species on earth.
Global Big Day in the Tropics is all but friendly
Latinamerican countries seem Global Big Day a bit like the final of the Soccer World Cup, and although they preserve the collaborative spirit of Global Big Day, the competitive spirit is pretty strong there. For the first two versions of Global Big Day, Peru was a clear champion setting back to back 1-day world records with 1,183 and 1,240 bird species respectively. Brazil came second and Colombia lagged behind in third place with 848 and 948 species.
Last year and thanks in part to the end of the internal civil conflict with the FARC guerrilla, Colombia turned round the stakes setting an impressive 1,486 bird species new world record, a feast they will try to repeat this May 5 thanks to the efforts of passionate birders around the country and the benefits of living in peace.
Ways to participate in Global Big Day
Whether you’re spending all day out and recording lists of 100+ birds or you spend a few minutes in your neighborhood, your observations are a valuable contribution. In order for your observations to count you need to make sure you record them on eBird, either on the website or mobile app version.
What is needed to participate
Not really that much. Global Big Day can be described as a deep sensorial experience since you count birds you hear and not only those you see. In fact, a good sense of hearing and being able to recognize some species this way, tend to serve you well as a birder and is a seriously important skill to have during Global Big Day. Some logistics to consider:
- A notepad or voice recording app to keep up with your observations. Or, mark your observations directly in the eBird app.
- A field guide or birding app to help you identify the birds that you see. Merlin is really useful for those of you in the US but there are many other options in other countries.
- Binoculars are a staple for birding but this day you will also have to trust your hearing senses. There is very little time for photographs.
- Access to the Internet so that you can submit your observations to eBird
Follow up with the action in real time
Cornell Lab of Ornithology team Sapsucker will be birding in Colombia, Honduras, and California — but more importantly, you’ll be able to track how many species have been seen around the world and in any region of interest to you. Follow live updates here.
In order to celebrate Global Big Day big time, Icaro has created a 12 days birding tour to the Cauca Valley and the Western and central Andes Cordillera of Colombia that will work as a training ground and to grow your level of expectation and adrenaline for its grand finale, Global Big Day on May 5. That day, birding the almighty Montezuma Peak in the Choco bioregion of Colombia (the hotspot with more endemics in the Americas) our tour participants can expect to record around 120-150 bird species at the end of a frantic, from dawn till dusk, exhilarating birding day.