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Global Big Day: Bird Watchers of the World, Unite!

A joint initiative of Cornell University and the Audubon Society aims to join together scientific research and bird watching to help the conservation of birds. Panama is the first country outside of the United States selected for the project.

Since 2002, Big Day has taken place as an initiative of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (New York state). Every May 9, for a timed twenty-four hours, properly certified teams register bird sightings, which are then uploaded to the website www.ebird.com. The results are classified by species, team, and region.

The event was named Global Big Day and went international in 2015. Panama was selected as the first site outside of the United States to celebrate it. Why? Evidently, the country’s wealth of birds has something to do with it. “It was amazing: we reviewed the international statistics and in Panama alone around five hundred species were sighted, while in Brazil, for example, around a thousand were seen,” explained Marshall Iliff who relaxed with the other team members at the Canopy Tower  in Panama a day after the event. Canopy Tower co-sponsored the event in Panama, supporting Sapsucker team in every need. Christopher Wood, team leader, added, “Panama is the best place to begin this project because there are places like Canopy Tower that can help us and people like Carlos, who know each song or call, each location, and even each individual bird.” He’s referring to Carlos Bethancourt, Canopy Tower’s Senior Guide and  local member of the Sapsucker team. The other two members were Jessie Barry and Tim Lenz.

Global Big Day is not the only activity recorded by www.ebird.com. In fact, the website collects daily bird counts from thousands of observers around the world, as well as reviewing articles and information useful to bird watchers and the scientific community alike, to mention just a few of the site’s applications. Information is available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Mandarin. Signing up to add to the list of sightings is very easy. According to eBird officials, there is no human pastime that can support scientific research as much as bird sighting, which is why the site seeks to channel all this data for the sake of conservation of species and biodiversity.