<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-P7854M" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">
Big Day 2024 Common Yellowthroat illustration

What Is Big Day?

Birding for a BIG Cause

On Saturday, May 11, the 10 intrepid birders on the Cornell Lab's Team Sapsucker will spend 24 hours birding nonstop in the Great Lakes region for Big Day 2024. Part birding marathon, part fundraiser, Big Day is an opportunity to celebrate spring migration, while inspiring support for the birds we love!

Before daybreak, Team Sapsucker will split into two groups: one based in Chicago and another in Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Chicago squad will explore urban parks and shorelines, while the Chippewa County crew will search through dunes, forests, grasslands, and wetlands where Lake Huron and Lake Superior meet.

They're united by one mission: finding as many birds as possible to inspire generosity that powers the Cornell Lab's crucial conservation work. Won't you cheer them on as they race against the clock for birds and biodiversity?

Watch our Big Day 2024 video and hear from the Team Sapsucker captains about their exciting Big Day plans.

Species Team Sapsucker expects to see include the Green Heron, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, and Ruddy Turnstone. Tap or click images to view larger versions.

Why the Great Lakes?

Each year, billions of migrating birds flock to the Great Lakes, where major flyways converge. Hundreds of species concentrate along lakeshores and green patches in urban areas to rest and refuel before embarking across some of the world's largest bodies of freshwater. 

This migration hub paints a vibrant picture of birds and biodiversity—but just as crucially, it captures the mounting dangers migrating birds face. Unfortunately, millions of birds won't make it to their breeding grounds this spring due to building collisions, habitat degradation, and other hazards. 

With help from Big Day supporters like you, the Cornell Lab can spread awareness and boost data-driven science to protect birds—in the Great Lakes region and beyond!

Make a Big Difference for Birds 

Each spring, 3.5 billion birds migrate into the United States. But using radar to detect birds in flight, Lab scientists found that migration decreased by 14% over a recent 10-year period, amounting to hundreds of millions of birds vanishing.

There’s no way around it—birds need our help now more than ever. And with your Big Day support, the Cornell Lab can continue to...

  • share powerful eBird data with partners working to restore vital migration links for birds and wildlife
  • use game-changing technology like BirdCast to help alert cities when to power down lights and make windows safer to prevent deadly collisions
  • spark millions of people to look, listen, and learn about birds with our free Merlin Bird ID app

This important workand so much moreis powered by people like you. Will you make a Big Day donation to the Cornell Lab today?

I’m thrilled to be a part of Team Sapsucker again and to highlight this remarkable region where land, water, people, and birds intersect. Please join us by sponsoring our efforts today and we’ll report back to tell you what we find!
Jenna Curtis Headshot portrait

Jenna Curtis Team Sapsucker Co-Captain

Meet Team Sapsucker

Ten Cornell Lab staff members have been specially selected to join Team Sapsucker for Big Day 2024. Together, they represent a diverse range of Big Day experience, as well as expertise from nearly every corner of the Cornell Lab. Get to know them by flipping through our Team Sapsucker image gallery!

Did you know? You can cheer on Team Sapsucker by following their progress on May 11. Just bookmark our Big Day 2024 eBird Trip Report, where you can get live updates throughout the day on species the team has recorded. You can follow the Lab's Facebook and Instagram pages for updates during the day. Until then, explore eBird to get a sense of what species we may see in Chippewa County, Michigan, and Cook County, Illinois.

Jenna Curtis is our Chicago team captain. Her first Big Day for Team Sapsucker was in New York City in 2022, and she's looking forward to another opportunity to tell the important conservation stories that happen in urban environments.
Marshall Iliff is an eBird project leader and captain of the Sapsuckers Michigan team! He's inspired by the ability to communicate about bird migration through the Great Lakes, and looking forward to enjoying seeing the birds he and his colleagues spend their days working to protect.
GemmaClucas headshot
Gemma Clucas is a Research Associate in the Lab’s Center for Biodiversity and Higher Education, and while she’s usually found on the coast studying seabirds, she’s excited to experience the Great Lakes during spring migration as part of Team Sapsucker this year.
Tom Auer helps lead production efforts for eBird Status & Trends. His early birding years were forged on the shores of Lake Superior, a place he will always call home—he's excited to return and highlight an important place, both for him and for the birds!
ChrisTessaglia-Hymes headshot
A Big Day veteran, Chris Tessaglia-Hymes has cultivated experience traveling all over the world as a field applications engineer for the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics. He loves the thrill of focused birding energy and team camaraderie, and is excited to be on Team Sapsucker.
Christine_Audette headshot
Christine Audette, a member of the eBird web team, is thrilled to join Team Sapsucker. She loves sharing her enthusiasm for birds with others, and is excited to help make Big Day feel like an event for everyone, regardless of birding experience.
Nick_Butts headshot
A member of the Lab's data processing team, Nick Butts is a lifelong birder with a love for conservation. He hopes that through Big Day, he can help spread the joy of birding to others and support the work of the Lab.
John Garrett headshot
As a coordinator for eBird, John Garrett has had a passion for birding since he was little. He loves the friendly competition of Big Day, in addition to the teamwork, the long duration, and the way it forces him to get to know a place.
Alexis_Falise_Glacier Bay_Iceland
Alexis Falise helps manage the Lab's membership program, and has been a nature lover from a young age. She enjoys challenges that require teamwork, and can't wait to participate in Team Sapsucker’s field efforts to find as many species as possible in 24 hours.
Evan Griffis is a project assistant for Macaulay Library. He's excited to participate in Big Day to demonstrate the importance of Great Lakes habitats to migrating birds, go birding in the region he grew up in, and highlight the importance of eBirding in under-birded areas.

Top image credit: Common Yellowthroat illustration by Maria Klos, 2023 Bartels Science Illustration Fellow.