How many birds can be seen in one day? That’s the question that drives a ‘big day,’ a 24-hour birding binge that is a fond tradition among birders. The current record for a single Big Day team is 431 species, set in Ecuador.
Traditional birding ‘big days’ focus on a single team of birders, which got us thinking: what if everyone in the world joined together for a single Big Day? The answer, it turns out, is an incredible 65% of all the bird species on the planet—at least. We’re planning to improve on that number this year—fittingly, it’s the Year of the Bird—and you can be a part of it!
On May 5, will you join more than 20,000 others and become a part of Global Big Day? You don’t have to commit to all 24 hours—just an hour or even 10 minutes counts as participating. Visit your favorite spot or search out someplace new; enjoy a solo walk or get some friends to join in the fun.
Whether you find a Northern Cardinal (left), or the rare Vermillion Cardinal of Colombia and Venezuela (right), every sighting counts! Photos ©Ryan Schain (l)/Eric VanderWerf (r)
How to participate
- Get an eBird account: eBird is a worldwide bird checklist program used by hundreds of thousands of birders. It’s what allows us to compile everyone’s sightings into a single massive Global Big Day list—while at the same time collecting the data for scientists to use to better understand birds. Sign up here. It’s free.
- Watch birds on 5 May: It’s that simple. You don’t need to be a bird expert, or go out all day long. Even 10 minutes in your backyard will help. Global Big Day runs from midnight to midnight in your local time zone. You can report birds from anywhere in the world.
- Enter what you see and hear on eBird: You can enter your sightings via our website or—even easier—download the free eBird Mobile app. You can enter and submit lists while you’re still out birding, and the app will even keep track of how far you’ve walked, so you can just focus on watching birds. While you’re downloading free apps, try out the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app for help with identification. Please enter sightings before 8 May for our initial results announcement.
- Watch the sightings roll in: During the day, keep an eye on how the lists are growing in different parts of the world. Follow along with sightings from more than 150 countries, including the Cornell Lab’s Team Sapsucker in Colombia, Honduras, and California. Stats will be updated in real-time on our Global Big Day page.
Contributing sightings is easy with the free eBird Mobile app. Download for iOS or Android.
Global Big Day Pro Tips
Last year’s Global Big Day set a new record, with 6,659 species reported in one day. This May 5, we hope you’ll be a part of birding’s next world record. And no matter what you do, have fun, enjoy the birds you find, and share your sightings on eBird. Because in our world, every bird counts.