Global Shorebird Counts

The Global Shorebird Counts, 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 Counts 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 Counts 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: 3–9 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 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 2019 counts
(click the logo)


70 thoughts on “Global Shorebird Counts

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  6. The document has registerd sites but unable to put spot on the map ,please can you help? Moorland beach,Pardoe beach near Devonport and Freers beach near Port Sorell Tasmania

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  8. I’ve registered two sites as well, but they are not showing on the map. Forteau and Lanse Amour, NL, Canada

    • Dots added to the map manually. It takes time. It is just for showing the distribution of participants. Your registration is fine and there is no task with the map. 🙂

  9. Will multiple counts at the same site be ok? I counted today at Malibu Lagoon (coast west of Los Angeles) and another birder wants to count tomorrow. Thanks much for organizing this important effort.

  10. I’d like to post my site on Google Maps: Italy, Latium, province of Latina, Sabaudia.
    Where do I post my counts?
    Thanks for helping me!

  11. Will there be some sort of report of your count results?
    I promoted the count on our Audubon chapter blog and would like to do a follow-up blog with some data.

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  27. Good job. Now let’s hope they are not shot on any one of the French Caribbean islands. Yeah – organized hunts set up shooting positions over wetlands with decoys to lure in our shorebirds just for sport. It’s happening now. Bon Voyage but better yet- Bon Chance!

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  35. Hi Gyorgy! I registered one site that I have already made counting on previous years and it is appearing ok on the map. But yesterday and today I made countings on two other sites that I didn’t submit on previous years. How can I register them? Thanks!!!

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  38. Hi Gyorgy! This year would be my first year to join global shorebird counting program. I’m glad to be a part of such meaningful event 🙂
    Here is a little question, I’m interested in the results of the program over the past few years but the link of the results in this wedsite doesn’t work. Is the result of counting each year opening to public? How can I get access to it? Thanks a lot!

    • Hi, great to hear you join this event. Much appreciated. Traditionally the result of the previous year’s counting will be published as a part of the following year’s campaigns. So it’s coming. This year I hope I can find a student who is keen to work with numbers. I’m struggling to find enough time to work with data

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