We celebrated Global Big Day
on World Migratory Bird Day!

Scott's oriole

Global Big Day is an annual celebration of birds near and far. This special day, celebrated on World Migratory Bird Day, gives us a one-day snapshot of the current state of bird populations from around the world. The data collected helps develop conservation policies to protect birds in their native habitats.

According to eBird, “Last year, Global Big Day brought more birders together virtually than ever before. More than 50,000 people from 175 countries submitted a staggering 120,000 checklists with eBird, setting a new world record for a single day of birding.” Phoenix Zoo Senior Bird Keepers, Kyle Waites and Marisa Boyd, participated in last year’s Global Bid Day and observed 116 species of birds!

This year, Marisa and Kyle recorded 111 unique species of birds, the highest eBird record for Maricopa County and number seven in the state of Arizona! Their plan was to start before dawn at Coon Bluff listening for owls. Afterwards, they will work their way up Mount Ord looking for high elevation species. Later in the day, Marisa and Kyle will head to the Gilbert Water Ranch and Phoenix Zoo looking for lower elevation species. After visiting the Phoenix Zoo, they will visit Glendale Recharge Pond looking for shorebirds and finish the day near Tolleson after sunset. In total, they drove 196 miles, hiked 9.96 miles and spent 14 hours and 30 minutes birding!

Phoenix Zoo President and CEO Bert Castro and Janice Castro, along with Phoenix Zoo Past Board Chair Phil Petersen and Kim Petersen participated in Global Big Day in Santa Fe, New Mexico this year. They hiked five miles round-trip from town to a nature preserve. During their hike, they spotted 25 species of birds!  

Their observations, as well as other birder’s observations from around the world, are available at ebird.org/globalbigday.

What is your favorite bird you spotted last year?

“I was very excited to hear the elf owl at Coon Bluff Recreation Area, because it was a lifer for me! (Lifer: Birder slang for a new bird to add to a life list.) (Life list: All the birds a person has ever spotted.) It’s pretty cool to add the world’s smallest owl to my life list.”

– Senior Bird Keeper Marisa Boyd

“I was excited to spot the barn owl nest at Base and Meridian Wildlife Area, because I appreciated seeing the awkward and clumsy juveniles moving around. They also stare right back at you.”

-Senior Bird Keeper Kyle Waites

What is your favorite bird you spotted this year?

“My favorite bird was the barn swallow. It was nearly sundown at Tres Rios Wetlands, and we were staring up at hundreds of swallows zooming overheads feasting on bugs. It took us some time scanning the flock of cliff swallows and northern rough-winged swallows when I finally saw the long trailing tail of a barn swallow in the mix!”

– Senior Bird Keeper Marisa Boyd

“My favorite bird was the least bitterns. We were walking over the bridge at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch looking for a secretive bird that hides in the dense cattails. Suddenly, two flew right over us, banked over the water and perched nearby for a great photo!”

– Senior Bird Keeper Kyle Waites

“My favorite bird was the Cooper’s hawk, because we had to work pretty hard to identify it. It was a young bird and it’s always a challenge to differentiate between a Cooper’s hawk and sharp-shinned hawk.”

– Phoenix Zoo President and CEO Bert Castro

“My favorite bird was the red-naped sapsucker, because it was a bird I do not see very often. It was a male red-naped sapsucker with beautiful breeding plumage!”

– Janice Castro

“My favorite bird was the Cooper’s hawk. I spotted the large adult Cooper’s hawk in a heavily forested area. We were able to watch it for
quite a while. ”

– Phoenix Zoo Past Board Chair Phil Petersen

“My favorite bird was the black-billed magpie, because it has such unique and distinctive markings.”

– Kim Petersen

You can participate in Global Big Day from anywhere in the world. Participating is a fun and easy way to contribute to one of the largest citizen science projects in the world! Visit ebird.org/globalbigday or download the free eBird mobile app to log your observations.