More than 18,000 eBirders from 164 countries and territories joined together on 19 October to go birding on the second October Big Day. The global count of 6,497 species broke last year’s total of 6,360 species, setting a new October Big Day record! And for the seventh Big Day in a row, eBirders around the world recorded more than half of the world’s bird species in a single day! eBirders also added 41,300 photographs of 2,345 species and 857 audio recordings of 309 species to their checklists, providing excellent documentation and memories for an epic day. Wow!
It’s a wonderful feeling to watch sightings come in from across the world on any Big Day. Every Big Day event demonstrates how the global birding community’s shared passion brings us together across languages, borders, and cultures in one united effort for birds. Your passion for birds allows us to understand more about where and when birds occur globally like never before. At Team eBird, we use your observations to inform science and conservation to help birds worldwide. This October Big Day, eBirders submitted ~39,500 checklists and ~778,600 bird observations to further this goal.
One example of the impact of your observations are the eBird Status and Trends data products. These products show where different bird species are found, where their populations are concentrated, and where they migrate. This helps identify where to focus conservation efforts and so much more. Head over to eBird Science to explore more of your data in action.
We attempted to summarize some of the highlights from this collaborative day of birding below– check out what folks found! We hope you had as much fun with October Big Day as we did, and we encourage you to share your stories on social media with the hashtag #OctoberBigDay. If you haven’t entered your sightings yet, don’t worry. These are *just the initial results*—your checklists will still count! Enter sightings and follow along with continued updates here.
This year’s October Big Day took place nearly two full weeks later than the first one, presenting a challenge for birders in northern areas to find migratory species in the final weeks of autumn migration. Despite the later date, birders in the U.S. and Canada turned in fantastic results! U.S. eBirders found 654 species, and this time Texas (352) beat out California (334) for the state with the most species, while Arizona and Florida tied for third at 246. Charles Boley garnered the highest single-party species total for the U.S. with 137 species in Alabama.
Canadian eBirders found 310 species and once again notched the #2 spot for complete checklists globally with 3,543! Out of the provinces, British Columbia and Ontario tied at 200 and Québec followed close behind at 182. Ethan and Elaine Gosnell in Ontario notched the highest total of any Canadian group with 89 species. The highest count for a single species in the U.S. and Canada (and the world!) was 200,000 Franklin’s Gulls from a waterfront State Park in Kansas!
eBirders in the U.S. and Canada also documented 518 species with photographs in their eBird checklists and 107 with audio! Thank you to our partners, eBird Canada and eBird Québec, for helping make the Big Day a success in the region.
October is an especially exciting time in Mexico and Central America as Neotropical migrants are passing through or settling in for the winter on top of the region’s already spectacular list of resident and endemic species. Mexico (720) barely edged out Costa Rica (718) for the most species for any country. Panama (523) placed second for Central America, followed closely by Guatemala (518).
Mexico and Costa Rica’s species totals put them at #7 and #8 for countries with the most species globally, and they were also #10 and #6 for most checklists! Over 110,000 Turkey Vultures in Veracruz earned the highest count for Mexico and Central America. Thanks to aVerAves and eBird Centroamérica for doing such a great job to encourage eBird use in the region!
South America is a thrilling region to watch on any Big Day event, not just because it has more bird species than any other continent, but because the World Cup-level of competition between countries vying for the highest species total means that there will be a lot of eBirders out searching for birds!
As of this writing, Colombia (1,092) is just *barely* ahead of Brazil (1,091) for the coveted position of having the highest species total for any country on the October Big Day! They have been going back and forth all week as checklists have continued to come in. Can Brazil pull off the upset? Ecuador followed close behind in third with 982 species, and of special note, the top 6 countries with the most species reported were all South American countries!
Argentina also secured third for the greatest number of complete checklists from any country (2,339). The high count for the region was nearly 33,000 Chilean Flamingos in Argentina. A huge thank you to our many collaborators in South America: eBird Argentina, eBird Brasil, eBird Chilé, eBird Colombia, eBird Paraguay, and eBird Peru for their work engaging birders for October Big Day.
With its diverse array of island endemics, the West Indies are a key element for any Big Day effort. eBirders crushed last year’s total of 258 with a stellar 309 species representing 14 different countries! Puerto Rico once again claimed first place with 155 species followed by the Bahamas at 140 species. Cuba (111) barely edged out the Dominican Republic (110) for third place.
Eric Torres-Rivera, Julio Salgado, and Gustavo Torres tallied an excellent 112 species in Puerto Rico, the highest species total for any single party in the region. Almost 400 Cave Swallows in Puerto Rico was the highest reported count for any species. Thanks to our partners BirdsCaribbean, Sociedad Ornithológica Puertorriqueña Inc. (SOPI), and the many other excellent groups who work with Caribbean birds for boosting turnout– it really paid off!
Africa is one of the most exciting and challenging places for Big Day with many iconic endemics and abundant spectacles, but difficult access in some regions means that everything hinges on local turnout. This year 191 eBirders in 25 different countries submitted 429 checklists and recorded 1,049 species! This beats last year’s effort on both fronts, and we expect this total to grow as checklists continue to roll in.
South Africa (463), Zambia (421), and Kenya (409) had the most species of any countries, and Alastair Newton in Zambia had the highest species total for any single party with 302 species. Swallows were also the high count for Africa with 25,000 Barn Swallows at a roost in Zambia.
We look forward to seeing how eBird’s continued growth in Africa will make future Big Day events in Africa even more exciting!
Asia is an enormous region with a staggering number of habitats to cover, from alpine habitats in the Himalayas to endemic-rich islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and from lowland tropical forests to extensive boreal forests and grasslands. 1,127 eBirders submitted checklists across the region on October Big Day.
India (589), Malaysia (411), and Thailand (308) had the most species out of any country. India also took fourth for the country with the greatest number of complete checklists (1,169). Neoh Hor Kee found an astonishing 359 species between just two states (Penang and Perak) in Peninsular Malaysia, setting the single-party record for this year’s October Big Day!
Migrating European Starlings at the famous Besh Barmag bottleneck in Azerbaijan were the high count for Asia and the Western Palearctic with 21,660. Thanks to our partners BirdCount India, Wild Bird Club Malaysia, and eBird Taiwan for your efforts and ensuring great representation in the region. With eBird growing in China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, we look forward to how the friendly competition unfolds in future Big Days!
Birders across much of the Western Palearctic also had the challenge of a much later date for this year’s October Big Day, but a great autumn for vagrants helped bolster species totals with mega-rarities like Red-eyed Vireo in Ireland and Denmark’s first Two-barred Warbler. The species total was 501 species with 2,447 complete checklists from 1,219 eBirders!
For country totals, Spain claimed first (266), followed by Israel (222), then the United Kingdom took third with 192. Avner Rinot had the highest single-party total for the Western Palearctic with 145 species, while Tamas Zeke tallied 113 species in Hungary for the highest in continental Europe. Twenty-thousand Brant in Northern Ireland were the high count for continental Europe as well. Thank you to our partners eBird España, PortugalAves, eKuşbank (eBird Turkey), and eBird Israel for making this a successful day in the region.
Australian eBirders found 532 species and submitted 1,077 checklists, a new Australian record for any Big Day effort! Australia also took fifth for the greatest number of complete checklists from a country. Queensland (337), New South Wales (321), and Victoria (267) were the provinces with the highest species totals. Linda Bird and Adrian Boyle in Western Australia (129) barely edged out Ian Reid in South Australia (128) for the highest-single party total. Congratulations to all Australian eBirders on an outstanding Big Day.
New Zealand eBirders represented the country’s unique island well, finding 137 species on 315 checklists. New Zealand eBirders also made sure to record the Southern Ocean’s seabird diversity, managing an astounding 18 tubenose species, the most for any country on the October Big Day. Fittingly the high count was 3,000 Hutton’s Shearwaters in New Zealand. Lei Zhu tallied the highest individual species total with 62 species. Thank you to our partners eBird Australia and New Zealand eBird for encouraging participation!
And now the second October Big Day has finished! Our sincere thanks to the 18,789 eBirders who participated in this collaborative event. eBird wouldn’t be possible without you. The best part is that the birding doesn’t stop here: in eBird, every day is a big day. At any time, on any day, you can experience the joy of birding as part of a global community, and your sightings will count towards science and conservation across the world. If you’re new to eBird and want to know how to continue, check out our eBird Essentials course—everything you need to know how eBird can help you best.
We can’t wait to see what you continue to find and share. Stay tuned for news about the next Global Big Day coming in May 2020. We’ll see you out there!