Last Big Day: Ecuador keeps its place during the Global Big Day 2020

Ecuador Global Big Day 2020

Ecuador Global Big Day 2020

From immemorial times, birds have given us hope. In every corner of the world, every day of the year, birds migrate, build nests, raise their chicks, and inspire people everywhere.
On Saturday, May 9th, while the planet was facing the worst pandemic of the century, more than 50,000 people from all over the world stood up, scanned the skies, looked at their gardens, and walked around their local patch to enjoy bird watching.

This is how Global Big Day 2020 was experienced. But what exactly is a Global Big Day?

Ecuador Global Big Day

Ecuador Global Big Day

A Big Day is a birding event in which teams of people compete to see as many different species of birds as possible in a given area over the course of a day. This North American ornithological tradition was transformed into a massive global contest by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, an organization that has been celebrating it since 2015.

The Global Big Day is possible thanks to the existence of an online platform (developed by the same institution) in which all bird observations can be registered in one place: eBird.

In this portal, once you have created a personal profile, you can upload the lists of birds you observe literally from anywhere in the world. Thus, in addition to helping you keep a personal record of the birds, you have observed throughout your life, the site makes the information generated by birders available to scientists around the world to transform this data into scientific knowledge.

This is what we call citizen science, and eBird is the most important project in this field on the planet.

The GBD (short for Global Big Day) has been organized for three main reasons: the first is competition, which encourages people from all over the world to go out, count, and identify all the birds they can observe. Then they upload their observations to the eBird platform, and, after a week, get the results to see whether their country or province won. This is one of the most important reasons why this event is so popular. The second reason is data collection.

Never in history has so much biodiversity data been collected in a single calendar day: 120,000 lists uploaded in one day! These lists contain more than 2.1 million bird observations. During Global Big Day 2020 alone, more bird data was collected than in the first 2.5 years of eBird’s existence!

Finally, GBD has become a real celebration. Weeks before the event, courses, workshops, talks, online birding, and countless other online meetings were organized so that we could all learn, motivate, and share our passion for birds.

Global Big Day by the Numbers:

  • 50,072 people went birding
  • 120,000 checklists were submitted
  • 6,479 species were recorded
  • 62,296 photos were shared with the Macaulay Library
  • 1,922 audio recordings were shared with the Macaulay Library

In addition, the GBD enables the countries and places with the greatest diversity of birds to be spotted. In this context, Ecuador remained on the winner’s podium obtaining the 3rd place for the fourth consecutive year. This is very important since it gives us the symbolic award of being one of the most avian-diverse countries in the world, a fact that should be a source of pride for all Ecuadorians.

Global Big Day’s Top 10 sort by country.

Global Big Day Data

Global Big Day Data

Making a comparative analysis of the previous GBDs, our country has shown a growing interest in the event, which is reflected both in the number of species recorded and in the number of lists uploaded to the eBird platform:


2015 5th 621 76
2016 4th 931 148
2017 3rd 1,260 379
2018 3rd 1,161 448
2019 3rd 1,169 510
2020 3rd 1,034 1,121


Comparative data of the previous GBDs in Ecuador.

We must also consider that this GBD was VERY special in every way (to say the least) since we lived in full confinement by the COVID-19. Many birders birdwatched from their houses, balconies, windows, gardens, etc. And yet we doubled the number of lists recorded throughout last year.

Events like this help people keep their connection with nature and show them how to value, enjoy, and take care of this natural heritage we all possess. At the same time, it shows us the tremendous responsibility we have acquired to care for and conserve this incredible natural wealth of which Ecuador is home.

Thanks to all the birders who, with their efforts, contributed to keep our country on the podium but also motivated many more people to go birding. Ecuador’s birding community is growing. And you, what are you waiting for to go birding?

Daniel Arias Cruzatty
National Tourist Guide
Creator of the initiative UrbanOrnis – Birding in the City

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