Global Big Day: Help count birds on Curacao May 13 2017

This post is also available in: Dutch.

2nd time Curaçao participates in Global Big Day
Bird telling kust
Bird telling tuin

Groove-billed Ani’s can be recognized by their grooved bills and clumsy way of flying.

In 2016, it was the first time Curaçao participated on a larger scale in the so called Global Big Day, an international event in which thousands of people all over the world went into nature to spot birds and count them. In nature areas, parks and gardens data was acquired after which these were handed over to coordinating organization or uploaded directly on the special birdwatching site eBird. The first participation of the island was a great success and we ended up third on the list of Caribbean countries with most uploaded list.
In 2017 Global Big Day is on May 13. And Curaçao is joining again, going for the first place this year. Everyone who loves being in nature and want to do something fun and educational can join. Young and old!.

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?

Saffron finches are doing well in urban areas with groups over 20 individuals sometimes. By counting the birds we get a better ideas about their distribution.

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 on your smartphone or tablet to use as a guide during the counting.
Below 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 13. Pictures are also welcome!

Choose a location

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 timeframe 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 13, 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 13th 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?

Laughing gulls can mostly be found along the coast. The mature animals have the brown head and young animals are grayish in color and do not yet have this color.

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 kust and Bird telling tuin) 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