Neotropical Birding’s magazine feature on Global Big Day 2017, which we are looking forward to at Chan Chich Lodge, provides a good primer on the what, how and why of this event; we hope to convince you on the where:
Walking the thin line between madness and brilliance, ‘big days’ (also known as ‘bird races’) are the essence of birding’s competitive spirit distilled into 24 intense, frantic and thrilling hours. Months of planning, poring over spreadsheets and pen-marked maps; days spent scouting out the perfect stops, driving practice routes while ingesting egregious amounts of caffeine; and years of birding experience used to find the right habitat for each target species, the game is to see or hear as many bird species as possible in a single, incredibly efficient, BIG day.
Why do this? Why care? These friendly competitions are an incredibly powerful way to engage people around the world, both within the birding community and beyond. Across fields of study and walks of life, there is always an innate human interest in setting records or being a part of something that has never happened before. In addition to the inherent fun, record-setting events provide an outlet to talk to non-birders about conservation issues, ecological concerns, and all the things that make birds so interesting.
In our winged world, the friendly competition generally revolves around questions such as ‘How many birds can be seen in X?’ This may cause folks to list birds in their home county, or keep a list for a region like Central America or the Western Palearctic. There is also the temporal component, usually taking the form of the ‘Big Year,’ where you build your list over a single calendar year. For many, this competition eventually revolves around a single question that you may try to answer time and time again: ‘how many birds can be seen in just one day?’
In the UK, the current single-day record is 178. In the US, it is 294. In July 2015, Sean Williams did a Peruvian big day on foot (Williams 2015), walking 18.15 km and finding an incredible 345 species! In October of the same year, Dušan Brinkhuizen, Rudy Gelis, Mitch Lysinger and Tuomas Seimola recorded 431 species in a jetsetting day across Ecuador—a new world record (and an achievement that we hope the participants will recount in a future Neotropical Birding). For big day achievements, the Neotropics reign supreme.
Big-day totals for these single parties of birders have always pushed the envelope, but how about if the global birding community participated simultaneously? Imagine if every birder in the world joined together for a single day to record their sightings! Could we document half the species in the world in a single day? Or, just perhaps, even more?…
Read the whole story here.