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eBirding the World Big Year – April Update

One of Noah's bird highlights in April was this Chestnut-naped Antpitta at Rio Blanco, Colombia.

In 2015, Noah Strycker is attempting to become the first person to see 5,000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! Noah is now a third of the way through 365 straight days of birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, global birding trip. To date he has covered Antarctica and most of South and Central America, tallying a fantastic 2,349 species. Noah is using eBird to keep track of his sightings and to help strategize during his quest, as well as to connect with many other birders as he travels. You can see his daily blog accounts on Birding Without Borders. He has been kind enough to write up a summary of his travels for us each month – you can find his notes from April here! In addition, Noah was sure to note that he’ll be in Oaxaca on the 9th for the Global Big Day! Where will you be?

This month I worked my way north from Colombia through Panama, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. In April I submitted 177 eBird checklists and saw 1076 species of birds, 478 of which were new for the year, bringing my cumulative 2015 total to 2349.

A sign points the way in Tarcoles, Costa Rica.

A sign points the way in Tarcoles, Costa Rica.

After three months in South America, it was good to hit a new continent in April! As I move northward through Central America, I am seeing some familiar birds whose ranges extend south from the U.S. It’s been fascinating to progress through the ranges of various species. I picked up my first Acorn Woodpecker in Colombia, my first Green Heron in Panama, my first Vaux’s Swift in Costa Rica, and my first Bushtit in Guatemala.

A Scarlet Ibis tries (and fails) to blend in with White Ibis and Snowy Egrets in Santa Marta, Colombia.

A Scarlet Ibis tries (and fails) to blend in with White Ibis and Snowy Egrets in Santa Marta, Colombia.

I’ve also witnessed spring migration from a slightly different perspective this spring as I follow the main push of neotropical migrants. I’ve seen a few concentrations of migrants (thousands of sandpipers in Panama Bay; a kettle of two dozen Mississippi Kites in Panama’s foothills; and flocks of Eastern Kingbirds, Barn Swallows, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in Guatemala), but, for the most part, I’m just seeing the stragglers. I was happy to catch a couple of lingering Worm-eating Warblers in Jamaica, but may have missed Swainson’s Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush, as those species have already departed Central America. Most of the migrants I’ll pick up in one place or another – my main targets along the way are resident birds.

Birding the wetlands in Jamaica.

Birding the wetlands in Jamaica.

For the Global Big Day on May 9, I’ll be in Oaxaca, Mexico – and I look forward to joining this worldwide effort! (And you should, too…) This event is exactly what birding without borders is all about: People connecting with each other through birds. The deeper I get into this big year, the more I realize that it is bigger than the effort of any one person. By the end of this year, it will be as big as the whole world – and if the Global Big Day and my own world big year can inspire more interest in birds, so much the better. See you on eBird on May 9!