May 9 Is Big Day for the Birds




This is Scientific American's 60-Second Science. I'm Steve Mirsky. Got a minute?
"On May 9th this year will be the first Global Big Day, and the idea is to see, if we have people all around the world on a single day looking for birds, how many birds can we find in 24 hours."
Chris Wood of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in Ithaca, New York.
He's the project leader for eBird.
It's an online database by which birdwatchers anywhere on the planet can upload their sightings and help increase the resolution of our information on exactly what birds are hanging out where, and when.
I spoke with Wood on a visit to the lab in April.
What are called Big Days have been local events for counting birds.
But the May 9th Big Day is for the whole world.
"So the hope is that people in India, people in Iran, people in Australia, many of whom are already using eBird, will enter birds that day and see if we can find 3,000 species, 4,000 species.
That's really the idea.
It's one day to go out and explore biodiversity and see this amazing planet that we live on."
"And is there going to be any kind of working up of that data for a particular reason?"
"Yeah, so what we'll do is we ask everybody to enter data into eBird.
And by having those data in eBird will give insight into populations of birds at some level, but it also just allows us to prioritize and think about, okay, here's a region of the world where despite these outreach efforts, we haven't engaged as many people.
And it allows us to help, so we think, okay, for the next year let's focus here and see if the next year all of a sudden the birds that are on Fiji, maybe, if we have reports of them,
and then the idea really is to inspire people to not just count birds on this one day,
but really to count birds every week or every day and then really understand about how ecosystems are functioning, how birds are moving across the landscape."
"So Global Big Day is a way for people to count birds, but for you to count people."
"Yeah, at some level."
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American's 60-Second Science. I'm Steve Mirsky.