24 hours to observe and record birds

Margaret Sanchez

THE COUNTRY | Manizales

Birders from Caldas and the world ready their guides, binoculars, comfortable dark-colored clothing, sunscreen, mecato and, above all, their cell phone with the eBird application to participate tomorrow in the largest bird watching day: the Global Big Day (GBD).

In 2020, the covid-19 pandemic marked the date, in the midst of confinement and from windows, balconies, gardens and farms, the species were recorded. Last year, the social unrest in Colombia permeated the activity, and some spotters did participate, but did not upload their lists as another form of protest.

This Saturday the GBD returns. The biologist from the University of Caldas Kelly Orozco explains: “It is an activity of voluntary participatory science in which experienced observers, novices, academics, scientists or amateurs go out to record birds for a day. They make their lists and upload them to the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology eBird platform. It becomes a long-term monitoring strategy.”

During 24 hours, the count is made by locality, department and country of how many species, individuals and lists. Between 2017 and 2020 Colombia ranked first in the GBD, in 2019 1,604 birds were registered, of which 1,954 in the country.

Orozco indicates that having the data and comparing them in real time has made it look like a competition, but emphasizes that Caldas promotes it as a citizen science activity in which communities and entities interested in habitat conservation participate.


The coordination of the GBD in the department is led by the Caldense Society of Ornithology, Cotelco Caldas, Government, Corpocaldas and Institute of Culture and Tourism with the support of other institutions. “The purpose is that these research and conservation processes are reflected in the correct identification of birds and that they continue to position us as a destination for nature tourism, birdwatching,” says Valentina Carvajal Castellanos, executive director of Cotelco Caldas.

To prepare, they held three virtual workshops on identification, management of registration platforms, birds of interest and endemic to the department, in which around 70 people participated who attended the recommendations of the specialized guide Fabio Arias and the geologist and observer Javier Salazar-Ariaswho updated the lists of species by municipality and subregion.

17 people will be supporting in Pennsylvania, Samaná, Victoria, La Dorada, Marquetalia, Pácora, Viterbo, Riosucio, Anserma, Chinchiná, Manizales, San José, Neira, Manzanares and Villamaría. “Everyone can participate, if I am a beginner and I made my list of five species in my space, it is valid”, reiterates Orozco.

The biologist highlights the work of the 20 sighting clubs in the 14 municipalities of Caldas. An example is the teacher of the IE Encimadas (Samaná) Jhorman Yepes Montes He is the leader of the Sasiri and Falcon’s de Oriente clubs, who has participated in three GBD and this time he will be in the Selva de Florencia National Park, El Quindío sector. “Participating brings us much closer to the knowledge of birds, the territory and we generate awareness for the care of them in our environment.”

Bird watcher Javier Salazar-Arias invites the use of the term plumazo when a species is observed for the first time. In the image a pigua (milvago chimachima).

For doubts

If you have questions and need help identifying a bird, the Global Big Day coordinating group has set up a WhatsApp group for inquiries. You can enter here.

According to the List of birds in Caldas, which was published in 2020, there are 814 species in Caldas.

The Global Big Day count can be reviewed here: https://ebird.org/globalbigday


Biologist Kelly Orozco gives the following recommendations to participate in the Global Big Day and when going bird watching:

* Enjoy birding without stress for not being able to identify a species. “It is not the quantity that matters, but the quality of the data.”

*Make sure which area you are going to travel to, what conditions the terrain has and thus know what clothes to wear, have hydration and food for long days.

* Plan and contact local guidessupport the people of the area.

* When uploading data to eBird, be sure of the name of the species being recorded, change the list if it changes habitat or if pauses of more than an hour are made, put the number of individuals seen and add the location of the town visited.

* Birds have activity peaks from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and from 4:00 to 6:00 pm

* Do not force the lists or the birds, avoid the use of playback (play the song of a bird to attract it) or do it responsibly, this can affect their behavior.

* You can use apps and platforms like Merlin and BirdNetalso from Cornell University, to identify birds and their songs.


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