As part of the second Global Bird Weekend and in celebration of World Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, October 9 is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s October Big Day. This global event is an all-day birding bonanza during which birdwatchers around the world will try to tally as many bird species as possible in a 24-hour period.
October Big Day 2020, the first-ever global big day, set a record for the highest number of bird species tallied in a single day. Birding teams from around the world recorded a total of 7166 species, over two-thirds of the total number of bird species on the planet!
Saudi Arabia, however, sat last year’s event out. Since the country boasts bird species only found here, such as the Asir Magpie, or on the Arabian Peninsula, the efforts of birdwatchers around the Kingdom can help break last year’s record! Read about Saudi's wonderful endemic and near-endemic species HERE.
So wherever you are on Saturday, October 9, join the Saudi birdwatching community for a day of enjoying the incredibly diverse pageant of color, shape, and sound that is Saudi birdlife and be a part of the global team striving to set a new record for the highest number of bird species recorded in a 24-hour period.
As COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to the health and well-being of our communities, please put your health and the health of your families first, always follow the Saudi Ministry of Health’s guidelines, and be mindful when birdwatching with others:
Wear masks and maintain a distance of two meters
Don’t share birdwatching optics like binoculars, cameras, and spotting scopes
Don't share phones or other touch-screen devices
Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer often when in communal spaces
You can even report birds from outside your home and still participate in this year’s October Big Day. With hundreds of millions of birds passing through Saudi Arabia every year, even private gardens and local parks can suddenly become alive with birdlife as waves of migrants seek cover and refueling during periods of rest before continuing their winged journey onward.
Here’s how to participate:
Get an eBird account: eBird is a database of bird observations submitted by millions of birdwatchers around the world. By submitting your October Big Day sightings to eBird, you will be adding to the overall big day results—7166 species's the number to beat—but also contributing data that will help scientists better understand bird distributions and movements among other important areas of inquiry. Sign up for eBird HERE.
Go out birdwatching on October 9: Easy-peasy! The October Big Day runs all day from midnight to midnight, and some hardcore birdwatchers will be out searching for birds for most of it. However, you don’t need to be an expert or go out all day long. Even just reporting what you see and hear in your backyard will help.
Report what you see and hear on eBird: You can submit your observations on the eBird website or, even easier, you can download the eBird Mobile app and submit them on the go. The app allows you to create and submit checklists of the birds you’ve encountered while you’re still out birdwatching as well as explore nearby birding hotspots and track how far you’ve traveled so you can just focus on watching birds. You can download the app for iOS or Android. Finding birds and keeping checklists is easy with the free eBird Mobile app. Please submit your checklists in eBird and share them with the Saudi Birding Team—username SaudiBirdingTeam—before October 13 to be included in eBird’s initial results announcement.
Watch the action: During the day, keep track of how the lists are growing in different parts of the world. Follow along with reports from more than 160 countries, including those from team Saudi Birding. Stats will be updated in real-time on eBird’s October Big Day page.
October Big Day Pro Tips:
If you’re new to eBird or want to make your checklists from Saudi more valuable for science and conservation, take eBird’s free eBird Essentials course.
Use Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app to help you identify unfamiliar Saudi bird species by sight or sound, and then use eBird to report them so your sightings are part of the October Big Day totals.
Take photos of the birds you’re seeing and add them to your checklist—they might end up on eBird’s October Big Day page!
Make sound recordings and prepare and upload your recordings to your eBird checklists to help Merlin identify more birds in Saudi Arabia and the wider region by sound.
Make your sightings more valuable by submitting complete checklists, try to keep accurate counts of the birds that you see, and keep multiple checklists throughout the day as you visit different spots.
During the October Big Day 2020, 33,662 participants from around the globe submitted 80,602 checklists containing a total of 7,166 different bird species. Saudi Arabia, however, sat that one out. How many eBird checklists and participants will the Kingdom have this year? No matter where you end up birding on October 9, have fun, stay safe, enjoy the birds you find, submit your sightings on eBird, and then be sure to share your checklists with SaudiBirdingTeam. Your observations will help scientists and conservationists better understand Saudi birds and from this valuable data how best to protect and preserve them for the long-term health of Saudi's ecosystems and the enjoyment of future generations of Saudi birdwatchers.
Hope to see you out on Saturday, October 9, for the October Big Day.