The Global Shorebird Counting, held every year around World Shorebirds Day (6 September), is one of the key events of World Shorebirds Day. This program demonstrates the importance of fieldwork, supports observers in improving counting skills, contributes to the increase of the number of birdwatchers and scientists monitoring shorebirds worldwide and pledges new citizen scientists to the world’s largest bird database program.
Why count shorebirds?
Regular counts carried out by thousands of volunteers and professionals worldwide can reveal distribution, population trend or abundance of any species what is fundamental to the assessment of their status. Bird monitoring is a key tool to determine whether a population of a bird species is declining or increasing and/or is in need of coordinated conservation efforts or not. Careful and professional analysis of bird count data have proven to be essential for setting priorities for many shorebird species in the past such as the ‘Shorebird of the Year‘ in 2014, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, or the Red Knot, just mention two species in trouble.
The Global Shorebird Counting Program contributes to these efforts and aims to engage with local patch birders and to transform amateur birdwatchers into citizen scientists on a local level. Our program supports eBird with thousands of submitted data. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has spent many years in developing eBird what now offers a very advanced platform for data recording in the field. As a result, over 100 million bird records have been submitted to eBird, making it a powerful source for bird and habitat conservation.
Global Shorebird Counting Program dates
A week around World Shorebirds Day (6 September) is dedicated for shorebird counting around the world. The counting dates are changing year by year but it is always announced well ahead of the event. These dates might be great for the birdwatchers in the southern part of the Northern Hemisphere but might be too early for counting migrants in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s impossible to set a date suitable for everyone. However, this program is not solely focusing on migrant shorebird species!
Dates in 2018: 5–11 September
Dates in 2019: 5–11 September
Dates in 2020: 3–9 September
Where to count shorebirds?
Shorebirds can be found everywhere and occupy all sort of habitats in all continents. We can find local breeding populations of Chestnut-banded Plovers in South Africa while the migrants are still en route from the Arctic breeding grounds. Australia, Africa and South America have many breeding species, cannot be found anywhere in the world, and those have been well underrepresented in our program.
The possibilities to count shorebirds are endless. For an example, members of an Italian bird club made a survey in an alpine habitat and searched Eurasian Dotterels. They successfully found them and submitted their data to eBird. Despite the widely accepted name, used primarily in the Americas (in Eurasia and Australia they are called waders) shorebirds do not exclusively live on shores. Many do, but a large number of species is dependant on completely different habitats (semi-deserts, meadows, grasslands, alpine rivers, alpine meadows, rainforests, inland wetlands or even urban habitats), far away from any coastal habitats. Your local patch is perfectly fine in most cases.
How can you take part in the Global Shorebird Counting Program
Our aim is to have long-time and returning participants in this program. Repeated counts will allow analysts to calculate trends of different species.
Between the given annual dates, participants visit their local patch or any selected habitat and count shorebirds as precisely as possible. The list of shorebirds can be found here. Checklists with ‘X’ mark (instead of numbers) cannot be accepted as this program is about counting. It is highly recommended to use the eBird app, available for both iOS and Android, in the field, as it makes birding and data recording a lot easier. It records your tracks, makes it very easy to add numbers to the already counted species and a lot more. More details can be found on the related eBird page. Although the Global Shorebird Counting Program is about shorebird counting, it is more than welcome to count and record all species once we are out in the field. Complete checklists have a lot greater value.
Submit your checklists to eBird after providing all the necessary details. The checklist will go directly to eBird and will instantly be available for further use.
To make the checklist visible for the World Shorebirds Day organisers, it has to be shared with the eBird account of World Shorebirds Day. The sharing procedure is very simple and it is described in detail on eBird’s website. The username WorldShorebirdsDay has to be used to share the checklist(s). Data sharing has to be completed before 30 September each year.
Follow the progress of the 2018 counts (click the logo)