Birding Big Day

May 8, 2021 was designated Global Big Day, a day to encourage individuals worldwide to watch birds and report their sightings to eBird. 51,816 participants submitted 133,887 checklists with 7,234 different avian species. The day resulted in four world records: The greatest number of birders, from the most countries, reported more species on more checklists than ever before.

Prairie Warbler/Rotscheitel-Waldsänger

Assuming that there are about 10,500 species of birds globally (this number is in flux, as gene analysis has resulted in the reclassification of many birds), observers on May 8 found nearly three quarters of this world’s species in a single day. An impressive feat, and a testament to the interest and dedication of bird lovers and advocates.

My first Canada gosling sightings of 2021/Die ersten Kanadagansküken des Jahres 2021

While I participated in the May 8 official spring bird count at Fountain Creek Regional Park, one of my favorite local destinations, and later added individual observations, my actual Birding Big Day happened on the following day. This was not by design, but as luck would have it, my friend and fellow ornithophile, Rebecca, and I had planned to visit Chico Basin Ranch, the top regional birding hotspot.

Birds were definitely on the move, and we saw more than 70 species at Chico Basin alone. When the birding community’s communication network was aflutter with reports of rare migratory bird sightings at Big Johnson Reservoir, another area birding magnet, we jumped into our cars to continue our observations there.

By the end of the day, Rebecca and I had logged over 100 bird species. Courtesy of a number of birds who have been partaking of the buffet in our back yard, I ended the day with 107 astounding species. Astounding and completely unexpected. Numbers don’t capture the utter joy and magic inherent in this birding pastime of mine, but they provide me with 107 reminders of why we need to do everything possible to protect and preserve the soil, the water, and the air, so that the Age of Birds will never end.

PS: Most of the photos here, which include both resident and migratory birds, were not taken on the official or my actual Big Day, but in the last several weeks in and around Colorado Springs. The featured photo on top shows an Evening Grosbeak (Abendkernbeißer) in a crabapple tree.

I dedicate this post to you, Rebecca: I treasure our friendship and shared love for birds and will miss your company this summer. I wish you safe travels and happy hours among your human and our feathered friends.

59 thoughts on “Birding Big Day

  1. Wow, 107 species in one day. Way to go! I particularly like the Western Tanager, the way the orange-red colour of the head blends seamlessly into the vivid yellow of the breast. What a great way to celebrate Global Big Day (which I’d never previously head of!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s interesting that you hadn’t heard of Big Day, Mr. P. Are you familiar with eBird?
      They are definitely trying to have more birders use their website to enter data. I suspect that many people still don’t keep an electronic log, or they are used to reporting their sightings through a different channel and don’t necessarily want to change.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic! Especially, “Numbers don’t capture the utter joy and magic inherent in this birding pastime of mine, but they provide me with 107 reminders of why we need to do everything possible to protect and preserve the soil, the water, and the air, so that the Age of Birds will never end.”
    Amen, amen! May I share this post on my blog next Monday?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Donna. As you well know, it’s impossible to resist taking photos of these feathered beings, regardless of how many we have taken before. 🙂
      We knew we had encountered a lot of birds, but when all the checklists were entered and the total number of sightings tallied, it was an exciting number to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was unaware that May 8th was designated as a Global Big Day! Congratulations on seeing so many of our avian friends on that day. As always, you have such wonderful photos, and who cannot help but smile at those yellow fluffy goslings? 🙂 Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked the photos, Takami. You are the second person who mentioned never having heard of this day. Next year I will try to remember to write a post BEFORE the event and encourage fellow bloggers to participate. Maybe you would be interested. eBird is easy to use and keeps track of bird sightings for you. Might you be interested?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Tanja, thank you for your reply. I would indeed be interested. The closest I came to a “big” event, was watching reading “The Big Year” and watching the movie adaptation 🙂 I will also put a reminder in my calendar for next year. May the world be a bit more settled by then!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will try to write a post about it a few weeks in advance next spring, Takami.
        I also read, watched, and laughed my way through “The Big Year” a few years ago. I can relate to some, but not all of it. Most birders I know are not as mean-spirited as some of the individuals featured in the film.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. English has the bird in your second picture warbling on the prairie, while in German that bird is a singer in the woods, Waldsänger. Did the German term originally apply to a different species in the same genus or family, one that frequented the woods?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s cheering to know that so many people got involved in the day. Not only did you have the joy (and beautiful pictures) from your birding, but you were also able to contribute to the knowledge of how different species are doing in your area.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ann. I agree–it is cheering to know that there are many among us who care deeply about birds. And one of the appeals of eBird is its function as a citizen science project anybody can participate in.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I so enjoyed your photos, Tanya, and it’s wonderful that you (and birders worldwide) had such a successful day. I have participated in Feeder Watch, and that was great fun, too. The number of citizen science projects has increased a good bit since I first became aware of them. The Monarchs are one of the best publicized, of course, but I once took part in a ladybug project!
    The reporting of the birds’ species and number is important, but sharing the experience is perhaps even more important. It helps to get people engaged.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your comment, Linda. I’m glad you have participated in Feeder Watch. I haven’t technically, but I submit a nearly daily checklist with sightings from our yard/feeders.
      I hope more people will become interested in nature observations and reportings.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great two days you and Rebecca had, Tanja! I’ve never participated in a count of anything and am no birder but can recognize the significance of 107 species and 7200 species worldwide. Sadly no Ivory Woodpeckers, though. 🙂 I am curious about the numbers and if they support a decrease in total birds or more happily an increase. The number s of everything seems to be decreasing…except for humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Steve. Unfortunately, many bird species have suffered a dreadful decline in numbers. And you are correct: there are too many of us humans and we live as if we were the only denizens of this world. It’s a very unhealthy situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 107 – very impressive! Me thinks you’re a bird whisperer!!!

    Our counts were really low this year, thanks to that new ‘razing’ which removed the roadside habitat in that bird-rich area. It seemed sterile/barren – and I recalled Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – yet this time caused by deforestation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still marvel at that day, Lisa, but it’s not the norm and many birds did not return after freak weather events last fall and this spring, to which many sadly lost their lives.
      And I’m sad to hear about the deforestation in your area/ If only we realized how detrimental this ongoing interference with earth’s finely-tuned systems is. Rachel Carson understood it, and she had a way to communicate it effectively.


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