Getting Ready for the 2020 Global Big Day

This year has started off a little different around the world. Our current global health crisis has forced many people to stay inside under lockdown and quarantine situations. One day we will be back out to enjoy birding at our favorite hotspots and travel internationally again. In the meantime, this is the best opportunity to focus on our backyard birds and wildlife. While we at Whitehawk are all dispersed around the world and hunkering down in our homes, we have been preparing for the 2020 Global Big Day, coming up on May 9.

2020 Global Big Day eBird
2020 Global Big Day artwork by Luke Seitz. Photo courtesy of eBird/Cornell Lab of Ornithology

What is the Global Big Day?

A citizen science initiative started by the eBird team in 2015, the Global Big Day is, just as its name implies, a “big day” of birding around the world. Everyone is encouraged to get out birding – whether it’s for the full 24 hours on a targeted jaunt through a designated area, or just 10 minutes in your yard – and report all your bird sightings and lists in eBird. The data collected from the past global big days is not only impressive, but important to recognize bird population trends year after year and contributes to bird conservation.

This year will no doubt be a little different as many people are restricted to birding in only their backyards or very localized areas. We are sure that the results will be interesting regardless. The eBird team is focusing on a different goal this year – to celebrate the birds on our own home turf, and to focus on the number of checklists that can be submitted on a single day. Help eBird surpass over 100,000 checklists in a day and set a new record!

American Kestrel Panama Whitehawk Birding 2020 Global Big Day
Fledgling American Kestrel in Jenn’s backyard in Panama

How are we getting ready for this fun birding event?

Over the past month, members of our Whitehawk Team have been eBirding on a regular basis from our own backyards. Migration season is in full swing; raptors and songbirds on the move have been a great source of birding entertainment. Local birds in Panama – Ruddy Ground Doves in Edwin’s backyard, Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and others coming to feeders on Angel’s patio, and nesting American Kestrels in Jenn’s backyard – are notable, among many others. Marta has been enjoying Acorn Woodpeckers and American Crows from her stake out in Los Angeles and Yeray’s watching Bonelli’s Eagles and other raptors across the valley from his place in Tarifa, Spain. It’s safe to say our eBird Apps are getting some good use these days.

To help you prepare even more, check out the Merlin Bird ID App. This fantastic resource right at your fingertips will assist with bird ID, help you review bird calls, and provide a list of all local birds that can be expected in your local area. Just install your local bird pack and you are ready to go!

A Whooping Motmot checks out the fruit offerings on Angel’s feeder in Panama

Go birding – now!

And don’t just wait for May 9 to arrive – get out and practice! Try out morning and afternoon lists in your yard and see how they differ day to day. If you have bird feeders in your yard, perhaps try offering some additional treats that may attract even more birds and some different species. Since we are approaching the peak of migration in the Northern Hemisphere, more and more birds are going to be arriving in our backyards each week. Enjoy your local birds and record your sightings in eBird.

Let us know how you are preparing for the 2020 “stay at home” Global Big Day on our Facebook page. We would love to hear about your local sightings!

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~ The Whitehawk Team