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What Is Big Day?

A Birding Marathon... for the Birds!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s 24-hour birding marathonBIG DAYis Saturday, May 13! It’s our biggest conservation fundraiser of the year.


On Big Day 2023, the Lab’s eagle-eyed team of birders, Team Sapsucker, will target two important regions of the Pacific Flyway to find as many birds as they can and raise awareness and crucial funds for conservation. In Monterey County, California, they will look for species like Yellow-billed Magpie, and migrating Whimbrel. At the same time, in Central Chile, the other half of the team will be on the lookout for Rufous-chested Dotterel and Andean Goose. 


We hope you’ll cheer on Team Sapsucker as they race against the clock for birds and biodiversity!


Big Day 2023 Landing Page bird collage-1

Top row: Rufous-chested Dotterel by Luke Seitz/Macaulay Library, Allen's Hummingbird by Sasha Cahill/Macaulay Library. Bottom row: Andean Geese by Erik Sandvig/Macaulay Library, Yellow-billed Magpie by Ronan Nicholson/Macaulay Library.

Why the Pacific Flyway?

Each year, more than one billion birds travel along the Pacific Flyway, a major migration route thousands of miles long stretching from Alaska to Patagonia.

Habitat along the Pacific Flyway is used by a diverse array of speciesfrom shorebirds and waterfowl, to hummingbirds and songbirdsbut many are threatened by expanding human development and environmental degradation.

It’s a sad truththe birds using the flyway today represent just a fraction of those that did a century ago. But with the help of Big Day supporters, the Cornell Lab can help bring birds back by spreading awareness, boosting data-driven science, and gathering support from people like you.


How You Can Help

Habitat loss, climate change, and migration hazards are an unfortunate reality birds must face on the flyway. There’s no way around itbirds need our help.


Thanks to donor support, our Coastal Solutions Fellows Program is already making strides to tackle challenges facing coastal ecosystems and communities in Latin America. The fellowships provide two years of funding support to researchers who are developing and implementing new conservation solutions. 


Availability of large-scale data from citizen-science projects like eBird is also improving our ability to develop effective conservation strategies for migratory birds on the flyway and across the Americas. 


The work we accomplish for birds couldn't happen without people like you. Will you step up by making your Big Day donation to the Cornell Lab today?


"Our goal is to celebrate—and help protect—the migrating birds of the Pacific Flyway. Your support is our inspiration!"

osvel headshot

Osvel Hinojosa-Huerta Director, Coastal Solutions Fellows Program

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Meet Team Sapsucker

The Cornell Lab’s resident Big Day birders are busy gearing up for another 24-hour birding marathon, bringing expertise from projects in every corner of the Lab, including eBird, Merlin, and Birds of the World.


This year, we’re especially excited that our partners, Red de Observadores de Aves y Vida Silvestre de Chile (ROC), will be joining Team Sapsucker in Chile! An organization of dedicated ornithologists and naturalists, ROC works tirelessly to advance research, education, and greater interest in birds and nature in Latin America.


You can cheer on Team Sapsucker by following their progress on May 13. Just bookmark our Big Day 2023 eBird Trip Report, which will provide live updates throughout the day on species the team has recorded, and keep an eye out for updates on the Lab's Facebook page. Until then, explore eBird to get a sense of what species we may see in Monterey County and the Santiago Metropolitan Region.

Members of Team Sapsucker for Big Day 2023. Top row: Brian Sullivan, Brooke Keeney, Cullen Hanks. Bottom Row: Jenna Curtis, Tom Auer, Sharon Montecino (ROC). Not pictured: Lizzy Chouinard, Vicente Pantoja (ROC), Whitney Mortimer.

Take a Trip Down Big Day Memory Lane

Flip through pictures taken by Team Sapsucker members from recent Big Days!

Header Image Photo Credit: Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling illustration by Maria Klos, 2023 Bartels Science Illustrator