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By Jim Wright
Special to The Record
I love writing about local birding, but when I can link it to the bigger picture, even better. Recently, I saw that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is sponsoring a global October Big Day on Saturday, Oct. 8 – nine days from now – and thought New Jersey birders might want to participate.
During last October’s event, more than 32,000 people from 195 countries submitted 78,000 checklists with a total of 7,238 species – in one day.
The first event of its kind was a Global Big Day in May 2015. The October Big Day was added in 2018. Why hold two events a year?
Jenna Curtis, eBird project leader, explains: “The Southern Hemisphere is going into spring while fall migration is wrapping up in the Northern Hemisphere. It can be fascinating to see how bird communities change between May and October. We wouldn’t really get that sense of seasonal variation in bird populations with just a single Big Day each year.”
The two annual Big Day events go beyond the traditional 24-hour events like New Jersey’s legendary World Series of Birding because of the number of checklists submitted, photos and recordings uploaded, the tens of thousands of people participating, and the global reach.
“More people submitting more checklists from more places gives us a more comprehensive snapshot of the world’s birds on a single calendar date, which is useful for science and conservation,” Curtis says.
“But the ultimate goal of Global and October Big Days is getting people excited about birds, no matter where you live or what species you find. By birding on a Big Day, you get to be part of the world’s biggest birding team. It’s a wonderful opportunity to unite people and build community.”
There’s just one potential obstacle. To participate, you have to use Cornell’s free eBird app.
If you haven’t signed up for eBird yet, now is the time. For ardent birders, eBird is the Swiss Army knife of apps. With a little practice, you can do almost anything related to birds – keep a life list, learn what’s being seen at local birding hot spots like Garret Mountain and the Meadowlands, and more.
But for procrastinators, I suspect signing up for eBird is one of those elusive “I’ll get around to it” resolutions. Fortunately, Cornell has the solution: a free three-hour introductory video course (just Google “eBird Essentials”) that also tells you how to:
*explore the hundreds of millions of observations in the eBird database.
*save and share your sightings (they add up – I have inputted more than 1,000 checklists in the past decade).
*learn more about any bird species.
What are you waiting for? Learn how to use eBird, sign up, and participate in the October Big Day on Saturday, Oct. 8.
P.S.: Even if you use eBird, you’ll probably learn a lot from the videos. (Use the Chrome or Safari browser.
The Bird Watcher column appears every other Thursday. Email Jim at [email protected].