WHAT IS A BIG DAY?
354 Species! A new world big day record!
On October 14, 2014, the LSU Peru Big Day team established a new record for the number of birds seen in a single day with 354 species. It was an intense and exciting day. For a more detailed run-down, check out this post on the American Birding Association blog. You can also see the our ABA blog posts on scouting in preparation for the big day in the Mayo Valley and in the mountains of Abra Patricia. Another post on the eBird page focuses on how we documented our observations during scouting and on the big day. Many photos are up on our flickr stream, and videos are on our youtube channel.
SOME BACKGROUND ON BIG DAYS
A big day is what birders call a competition in which a birder or team of birders tries to see as many bird species as possible in a 24 hour period. There are many variations, but most big days start at midnight and finish at midnight the following day. A big day might pit multiple teams against each other during a single day, or a single team might attempt a big day to see if they can beat a previous record.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE LSU PERU BIG DAY?
In 1982, LSU researcher Ted Parker and Princeton graduate student Scott Robinson set the world big day record. Their record, an astounding 331 species, was tallied at a single site, Cocha Cashu Biological Station in Manu National Park, Peru. In the last three decades, no team has managed to beat this record without using aircraft. Big days are a popular, time-honored tradition in birding, and holding the world big day record is very exciting.
PERU BIG DAY STRATEGY
Peru is among the top countries in the world for bird diversity, with roughly 1840 species registered. This made it a great place to break the world big day record. The spectacular Andes Mountain range bisects Peru, and it is so tall that it passes through dramatically different climates between its base and its towering peaks. Each climate band produces it's own habitat, which in turn has it's own set of bird species. To the east of the Andes, much of Peru falls within the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, which contain the highest single-site bird diversity in the world. The key to a large list during our big day was to visit as many habitat bands on the slopes of the Andes as possible, but also to spend enough time in the Amazon lowlands to see some of the many species in that area.
Abra Patricia (2100 m)
Upper Montane Forest
Lower Montane Forest
Mayo Valley Lowlands
Diagram of the elevation profile of the Peru big day route
Map of the approximate Peru big day route including (A) wetland habitats at Laguna Pomacochas, (B) high elevation forest at Abra Patricia, (C) lower montane habitats near Naranjos, and (D) rice fields and lowland forest patches near Moyobamba.
LSU Peru Big Day
Read a new article in the American Birding Association's Birding Magazine about the Big Day!
The LSU Peru Big Day team just after seeing their 354th and final species, Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis)!