Global Big Day: Help us count birds on May 14

This post is also available in: Dutch.

Identification cards: Bird telling tuin (garden) & Bird telling kust (shore)

De Curaçaose parkiet of maisparkiet komt zowel in tuinen als in natuurgebieden voor.

The Brown-throated parakeet lives in gardens and in the wild.

On Saturday, May 14, thousands of people worldwide go into nature for bird watching and bird counting. Some people just count in the backyard, and others in a nature reserve. The Global Big Day, as the day is called, is organized by the Cornell Ornithology Lab, and is intended for anyone who enjoys nature and wants to do something fun and educational. Young and old can join!

Bird watching can be a relaxing activity. Not only because you can quietly enjoy nature while you observe, but also because you can do it from your lounge chair in the backyard. And now this fun and relaxing activity can have added value, by participating in the Global Big Day. The day is especially designed to get people involved in an interactive, educational and recreational way. The collected data is a nice extra to obtain more information about distribution of birds and the numbers of birds out there.

How do you get started?

If you are active on Facebook than you can JOIN the EVENT ‘Global Big Day‘ on our Facebook “Birdwatching Curaçao”. We publish great tips in this event as well as two identification sheets with counting sections. There is an identification sheet with pictures of the most common birds in the garden as well as one with the most common coastal birds. These sheets can be printed digitally or can be used on your smartphone or tablet as a guide during the counting.
Under each photo you can find a section where you can tally when you see one of these birds during counting. There is also an area where you can indicate in numbers, at the end of counting, the number of birds per species you have counted.
The completed sheets can be scanned or photographed and mailed to us at info@curassavica.com or info@curacaofootprint.org. They can also be messaged to our Facebook page. You can also use the identification sheets as a guide (printed or on your phone or tablet) while taking notes of the number of birds of each species separately (on a block-note). Send us your list afterwards to the mentioned email addresses or Facebook page. It is important that all observations are send in on May 14. Pictures are also welcome!

Choose a location

American flamingos can be found in several salt pans.

American flamingos can be found in several salt pans.

There are several places on the island you can choose to count birds. The easiest place is in your own garden. Find a good spot in the garden, or from the porch, from where you have a good view of the birds in the garden, or feeding / watering spot in the garden. Choose a time-frame and write this down. Count which species of birds and how many individuals per species you see  for 15 minutes and write them down. Make sure you do not count the same birds two times. Sometimes it’s easier to do this with 2 persons, one observing and the other writing the number down.
If you are going to count in a natural area, it is also important that you write down in what time frame you counted, besides the location of course (if possible with GPS). You can count from a stationary position, or hike along a trail. It is important to write down what your beginning and your end point is, if possible with a GPS location.

Sharing the observations

As mentioned before you can send your lists of birds observed and bird numbers to us by email or message them to us on Facebook. But you can also upload them yourself on the global website www.eBird.org. This website is specifically designed for birdwatchers and you can create your own account. You can continue uploading new data whenever you want on any day you like.
Make sure you create an account some days before Global Big Day on May 14, and explore the website. If you have questions you can always send them to us through the channels mentioned above.
Make sure you upload all observations of May 14th on the day itself. You can also do this by using the latest eBird App: eBird Mobile. This app is available trough Google Play and the App Store and is free. (More information is available via http://help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/2411868)

Can children participate?

Yes, definitely. Bird watching and counting is a fun activity to do with children. You are not only active in nature (or the garden), it’s also nice to discover nature in your own backyard.

Which locations besides the garden are good for bird watching?

Many bird species can be found both in the garden and in nature areas.

Many bird species can be found both in the garden and in nature areas.

Curaçao has many locations to observe and count birds. Some locations offer unique difficulties as you need to be familiar with shorebirds. Some fun locations to go birdwatching and counting are f.i.: Westpunt (Playa Piskadó), the variation of hiking trails in Christoffelpark (norther route, Rooi Beru route, Christoffelberg route, around the plantation house), Ascencion bay, Hato plains, Lagun, Sta. Cruz, salt pans of Jan Kok, salt pans of Boka Sami, Malpais, Sint Anabaai, Caracasbaai, Santa Martha baai, the golf course at Blauw, the golf course at Emmastad, the golf course at Sta. Barbara, Sint Jorisbaai, Kabouterbos, Playa Kanoa and other natural areas.

Where to find the identification sheets?

The identification sheets identifying the most common bird species in the garden and along the coast can be downloaded HERE (Bird telling tuinBird telling kust) or on the upper side of this article, and will also be published in the EVENT which can be found on the Facebook page “Birdwatching Curacao“. Would you like to receive them by mail, send us a message on one of the mentioned email addresses.

What to do if you do not recognize a bird?

The identification sheets can support identification and reflect the most common species in the garden or along the coast. If you see a bird which is not on it, and you do not know which species it is, make sure to indicate this on the list of birds you spotted as an unknown bird and  add a picture if possible. Don’t have a camera, try to describe the bird as good as possible, so we can help with the correct identification.

Are you joining !?

Michelle da Costa Gomez

About Michelle da Costa Gomez