Global Big Day, By the Numbers

Cornell’s push to add species to its online bird database is a massive success.

On Saturday, Cornell had its first annual Global Big Day, and boy did it go over in a big way. eBird users stepped up to the 24-hour challenge to tally their sightings on the database, which is maintained by the Cornell Ornithology lab and used to study global bird diversity. As eBird project leader Chris Wood told Scientific American:[T]he idea really is to inspire people to not just count birds on this one day, but really to count birds every week or every day and then really understand about how ecosystems are functioning, how birds are moving across the landscape.”

Here’s a breakdown of Big Day’s biggest—and most notable—numbers:*

  • 12,536 global participants; 8,840 participants in the Lower 48

  • 5,827 species spotted in total. That number easily tops eBird’s goal of 4,000. And, what’s crazy is it’s over half of the (approximately) 10,500 bird species that exist (and are known). 

  • 635 species spotted in the Lower 48. Out of the participating countries, Brazil came in first for the total number of species spotted, with 1,055 out of the country’s 1,700 species being recorded.

  • 468 species spotted by the top group, Audubon de Venezuela. That’s just over 8 percent of the total species spotted. Congrats!

  • 5,000 Lesser Flamingos spotted, the most of any species counted. Rounding out the top five: American Flamingos (3,936), the Gray Gull (2,000 spotted total), Gray-headed albatross (700) and the Black Guillemot (650).

  • 21 species spotted in the South Polar region, logged by two participants: Adina Scott and Lucy Zoo.

  • 51 species were found in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

*Numbers at press time. Sightings from May 9 are still being added.

Even though the next Global Big Day is a while away, you can continue sharing your daily sightings on eBird. Register as a user (for free) here. Or explore the birds in your region here.