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Fourth Annual Big Day Bird Count

May 11

Red Crossbill. Photo: Tom Ediger

Red Crossbill. Photo: Tom Ediger

International Migratory Bird Day 2024 for the northern hemisphere will be celebrated in North America on Saturday, May 11, 2024, and it is designated as a day to reflect on the amazing travels of many bird species from wintering to breeding sites. It is also to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining significant and predictable feeding and nesting opportunities for these birds to thrive.

This day will be our fourth Big Day Bird Count which is a way for many of us to get to know our bird neighbours better. Last year’s count was very successful and produced the highest species total we had ever for a count – 101 species! This was tallied by 28 participants who enjoyed a wonderful time getting out and having a casual day of observing the spring birds of our area. This time of year we will be seeing the wave of migrant species flowing north from warmer climes and displacing the many overwintering birds that we see in our Christmas count. The Big Day results give us a snap shot of the species that use our area for migratory stopover and those that stay here to breed.

How to participate

The beauty of this count is that it is easy to participate – all you have to do is go out on May 11th and do some birding for as long as you desire. The count period is the 24 hours of May 11th for those who wish to do owling or catch the Dawn Chorus (pre-dawn). But don’t count your chickens!

Your responsibilities are:

  • Let Michael Dunn know you are participating and how many, if you are part of a team.
  • Commit to a timeframe (e.g. 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, all-day?) and count as many different species as you can see in that timeframe.
  • Record those species on a list.
  • Get your completed list to Michael Dunn, mjechael.dunn@gmail.com

How to do your count

This is the fun part. You can do your count solo or in a team. Family groups are most welcomed. If you choose to team up with others give yourselves a name. Be creative!

Only one list for each team is necessary, so designate a recorder for your team.

In terms of the area to count, it is your choice. You can go anywhere on the island to count birds and not worry about overlapping with other birders. As we are doing only species, overlap is fine as a final list of different species seen will be compiled from all the lists submitted.


Many of you have embraced the incredible free app Merlin for your bird identifications. This tool is excellent, but some caution is advised. What we ask of those using Merlin is to list only those birds Merlin has detected by call and you have confirmed a sighting of that bird afterwards. Michael Dunn submits the master list to eBird, and their review turns up birds that are not supposed to be found here or are very rare and for these birds he has to provide additional documentation and just a call identification may not be enough. The most up to date Mayne Island Checklist (available at Books on Mayne and the Conservancy office) represents documented species sightings over many years of bird watching and as such would be the list you refer to if your Merlin identification seems out of place.

What happens to the results?

All the lists submitted will be used to compile a single list of the total species seen on May 11th. This list will be posted on the eBird site for such lists so it will be accessible to birders all around the world. Also a summary of the Big Day Count will be posted on the Conservancy website.


May 11
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Mayne Island Conservancy
(250) 539-2535


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