Citizen Science is a wonderful way to contribute to the scientific world. This act is never small and is always recognised worldwide in various projects which include mammals, avians, plants and even shark species. Think of citizen science like the human population census. The same way we use human population data to aid in planning for now and the future is the same way we require data from the non-human world to also aid in planning and sometimes contribute to having science-backed facts.
2018 is the Year of the Bird and one great way to participate in this year-long occasion is to join the Global Big Day this month in May. May is also an amazing month for birds as we will also mark World Migratory Bird Day. The year of the bird is a tribute to the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act, to date, is the most influential and significant bird-protection law ever passed.
The Global Big Day is a 24-hour activity which involves collecting individual species of birds globally in a checklist for 24 hours depending on the various time zones of countries. To participate, an individual or group of people need to have an eBird account. eBird is a worldwide bird checklist program used by birders all across the world. The platform is a global Citizen Science program for the Avian world which allows the compilation of everyone’s bird sightings. If you are familiar with the Kenya Bird Map platform or Birdlasser you will understand the similarities in collecting bird data and information thus contributing to science enabling us to better understand the life of birds and how they contribute to our environment.
“It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for – the whole thing – rather than just one or two stars.” – David Attenborough
On May 5th, all you need to do within the 24 hours of this day is watch birds and record them on the eBird website or the free mobile application. You do not need to go to a conservation area or forest. Your immediate surroundings are already good to go. No need to worry about whether you have to participate within the whole 24 hours. 10 minutes of bird watching will be considered. Even birds rest and have other things to do. You can choose a specific time of day or throughout the day as you to contribute to this big day where data will be collected all over the world. Being part of over 20000 participants in more than 150 countries is enough to give you the motivation to join.
At last year’s Global Big Day, 6,659 species were collected by the global birding community. Kenya, in 2017, had a collection of 468 bird species. This was the highest in Africa. The number of bird species across the world is about 18,000. This is according to the latest report by the American Museum of Natural History. However, most checklists used by bird watchers as well as by scientists say that there are roughly between 9,000 and 10,000 species of birds. But those numbers are based on what’s known as the “biological species concept,” which defines species in terms of what animals can breed together.
Being a participant the Global Big Day will enhance public awareness of birds all across the globe as we marvel at their beauty and appreciate their role in our environment seeking to coexist on our shared planet.
Worldwide participation and activities such as this, aid in Science research, promote conservation efforts and enable access to Science-based facts and information to support sustainable development in countries. With the collected statistics, we can be able to know what is happening around us, whether there is an increase or decrease in the bird population, the challenges they face and what can be done.
The Global Big day is a chance to inspire, educate and continue to raise awareness. Be part of this annual spectacular and let’s see how many bird species we can get this time around.