Global Big Day is the one day every year when birders unite to count the world’s bird species for the advancement of science. It is also the only day the world’s media can publish the words ‘great tits’,‘rough-faced shags’ and ‘himalayan snowcocks’ and still have their journalistic integrity intact.
This year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology once again tweeted that Colombia was “on top of the world” in terms of bird species biodiversity. To put this another way, as Gary Lineker once said, Global Big Day is a day where birders flock together to see how many species they can spot; at the end of which Colombia wins.
Colombia once again had the most species with 1,546. Although the margin was very close with neighbour and two-time winner Peru tracking 1,490 species of birds in total. The United States were top in number of checklist leaders but they were only able to make it to number eight on the list with 716 species and were beaten out by other Latin American nations like Brazil and Ecuador. There were no countries in the top ten outside of the Americas. India, the top country outside of the Americas was perched at number 12 in the world with 577 species.
In Colombia, the region of Antioquia, with its lush forest and easier access to bird-spotting, came out on top with 736 species recorded. The top Colombian bird-spotter was Andrés M. Cuervo who clucked in a stunning total of 285 species.
The event lasted till midnight on May 5, with the last entries from Colombia spotted at 11pm that night. It was the Common Potoo and Common Pauraque that capped off another victory for the birders of Colombia.
The results were announced today and the event’s organisers were the first to congratulate Colombia on their “herculean” effort. “Over 1600 birders submitted 5,000 checklists, a truly amazing snapshot of birds in the world’s most bird-diverse country,” they chirped.
The participants were invited to submit their results online and the results can be accessed on the official website run by the Cornell Lab. This year over 6,899 species have been counted with over 28,000 taking part in the worldwide bird-fest.
But birding is no individual sport, nor is it competitive. Birders are an elegant, graceful and collaborative peoples far too polite to flip the bird at other enthusiasts in a contest. The victories were for science and our greater understanding of the remarkable biodiversity present among our pájaros parceros. This being said, Colombia will be looking to repeat the victory next year and become the first country to win the event three times.
The victory is also highly symbolic of the transformation the country has gone through which, as a result of decreasing conflict in many of the more remote regions of Colombia, tourism in regions ripe for bird-spotting has been on the increase. The Bogotá Post’s own Chris Bell has surveyed much of the territory, including stints in the Sierra Nevada, Mitu and Caquetá.