Global Big Day logs more than half the world's bird species in one day

The Global Big Day event organised by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recorded 5,950 species worldwide.

Thanks to the worldwide birding community, 9 May was an historic day – the first Global Big Day for bird conservation. More than 13,000 birders in 127 countries joined the Cornell Big Day team by entering their sightings into eBird, and achieved a worldwide total of more than 5,950 species on a single day – more than half of the world’s bird species!

More than 800,000 bird observations were uploaded to eBird on the day. The numbers are still rising, and you can explore the live results here http://ebird.org/ebird/globalbigday/. If you went birding on 9 May and haven’t entered sightings yet, it’s not too late – head on over to eBird.org, and perhaps the total can eventually reach 6,000 species?

Across Britain, 60 birders have submitted 146 checklists so far, logging 182 species of birds. In England, Lincolnshire reported more species than any other county with 108. Norfolk was the runner-up with 100, and sightings were entered from 25 additional counties. Scotland topped Wales by a significant margin, with 103 species versus Wales’s 44.

Across Continental Europe more than 30 countries participated in the Global Big Day, with 360 species reported in a single 24-hour period. The UK came third behind Spain (218) and Portugal (207). Will next year see the same rankings or will the United Kingdom sit atop the European rankings?

In Central America, Cornell Lab’s Team Sapsucker explored the tropical rainforests, wetlands and highlands of their host country, Panama. With logistic support from Canopy Tower Lodge, Panama Audubon and the tremendous skills of Panamanian teammate Carlos Bethancourt, the team found 320 species, a new record. Members of Team Sapsucker will be at the Rutland Birdfair this August, talking about this and other Big Days; drop by if you’re there.

Importantly, eBird data are not used just for these fun global events – they represent an fast-growing knowledge base for global bird conservation. The 250 million records are provided free to anyone via its data download tools, and the information has been used in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications as well as various conservation applications, ranging from continental State of the Birds Reports to dynamic bird conservation approaches in California’s Central Valley, to evaluating trends and threats to Central American species, to running Chile’s first ever Breeding Bird Atlas. In many other countries to eBird has become the best way to organize basic information on bird occurrence and seasonality.

On this first-ever Global Big Day, bird lovers worldwide came together to document and appreciate the diversity of species sharing our planet. Their energy represents a call to action for conservation.