Global Big Day at Macaw Lodge – May 9, 2020

Marco Umaña, Santiago Adaniz, Hugo Santa Cruz and Beto Guido (from left to right) / Birding Guides in Costa Rica

My name is Hugo Santa Cruz and I’m excited to write about the Macaw Lodge Global Big Day outcomes. As I’m new to the La Paz Group site, let me introduce myself. I’m a birdwatching and neotropical ecology guide in the Central Pacific of Costa Rica and Bolivia. I’m also a nature photographer and consultant for ecotourism projects and management of protected areas. 

The Global Big Day is an initiative of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that has been held since 2015, to raise awareness about the conservation of birds and their habitats. Birdwatchers and photographers from around the world contribute to the census of birds through the eBird platform; an increasingly popular citizen science management tool among birders.

Birders across the globe persisted with the Global Big Day despite the crisis caused by COVID-19, surveying birds either in literal “backyard birding“, or carefully enjoying the fresh air of parks and natural areas within access.  This year’s event had record-breaking participation with more than 48,500 registrars and more than 15,000 submitted lists.

In this edition of the Global Big Day, Costa Rica registered 676 species, obtaining the seventh place worldwide among 172 participating countries.  The Macaw Lodge Private Forest Reserve stood out among the best hotspots in the country, achieving the eighth place with 137 species of birds registered in a single day, inside our Ecological Sanctuary.

Our team of expert guides and birdwatchers began our Big Day census at 00:00 hrs., starting the first records with species of nocturnal birds. We then continued the count at dawn, moving through the different micro-ecosystems of Macaw Lodge.

Beto Guido taking a picture of a White-tipped Sicklebill – Ph: Hugo Santa Cruz

This year the Macaw Lodge birdwatching team joined the virtual Spoonbills Dream Team of BirdsCaribbean, an organization dedicated to science and taking action to conserve birds in their natural habitat. The Spoonbills Team will be sharing their data soon, but the total species count among the 21 members, birding in 7 countries on four continents was 602! Many people, including experienced birders, added “lifers” to their lists, as well as noticed birds for the first time in new places—a result of needing to choose new locations to safely bird during this pandemic.  

Among the registered species sighted by the team at Macaw Lodge of greatest interest to birdwatchers, were: King Vulture, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Uniform Crake (first historical record for Macaw Lodge), Baird’s Trogon, Scarlet Macaw, Russet Antshrike, Black-faced Antthrush, Rufous Piha, Royal Flycatcher, Canivet’s Emerald, Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Cacique, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Red-capped Manakin, and Black-and-white Owl, among many others.

Blue Ground Dove by Beto Guido

It is very gratifying for us to share with you all these excellent results, the product of the effort of many people who work for the well-being of the Ecological Sanctuary and who are committed to ecotourism and sustainable development as a way of life, contributing to the environment and socio-cultural progress. from local communities.

We can attribute the success of this count, not only to the extraordinary skill of the birders, but above all to the tireless commitment to the restoration of ecosystems that the Macao Sanctuary has been working on for the past four decades. Today, forests in natural regeneration, agroforestry plantations, and manmade water bodies and functional gardens take the place of once compacted grasslands with high negative impact from livestock activity and monocultures. All these ecosystems represent habitats of great ecological importance not only for birds but for a whole network of literally thousands of species of tropical flora and fauna that are healthy and integrated again into the natural ecological processes, in balance and harmony with the human beings.

Click here to see the list of birds registered at Macaw Lodge during the Global Big Day 2020.

To review the complete list of species identified at the Macao Sanctuary hotspot, click here

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