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.
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.
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.