eBird played an important role in the breaking of the Canadian Big Day record and two provincial records this spring. Big Days are the ultimate birding competition, in which birders use all their skills and endurance to find as many species as possible in a single calendar day. On May 26, the Long Point Bird Observatory “Cygnus Crusaders” found an incredible 204 species – beating the previous Ontario Big Day record of 200 species set in 1999. The following week on June 4, the “Cypress Hills” team tallied a whopping 226 species, a new Alberta Big Day record. This total also broke the Canadian record of 218 species set in Alberta in 2011. Both of these Big Day outings were combined with Bird Studies Canada’s fundraising efforts. Visit the Baillie Birdathon website to sponsor the Cygnus Crusaders or the Cypress Hills and receive a complete summary of their efforts.
It’s hardly surprising that birders are employing eBird in Big Day planning; many eBird tools are specifically designed to help people find birds. In return, eBird users provide biologists with a goldmine of data on bird distribution and numbers. In provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario, eBird popularity verges on the fanatical, while some other provinces are gaining ground at a more moderate pace. The eBird dataset becomes stronger and more useful with every new eBirder who comes online. Canada harbours an amazing breadth of biodiversity and programs such as eBird can play a crucial role in its monitoring and conservation.