9 Oct 2020

Global Bird Weekend: how you can help birds by spotting them

Saturday 17th – Sunday 18th October is Global Bird Weekend, where people across the world will venture out to record as many birds as they can – and raise money for conservation while they’re doing it. Here’s why you should join in the fun.

© Andre Schönherr
© Andre Schönherr
By Jessica Law

Sign up to the birding event of the year here

Have you started noticing a lot more about your local birds and nature this year? You’re not the only one. For the first time in my life, I watched two sparrows build a nest, incubate their eggs and raise five enormous fluffy fledglings in the hedge opposite my front window. People across the world have found themselves becoming more aware of their natural surroundings since the COVID-19 pandemic pressed pause on our ordinary lives. And while we all wish this tragedy hadn’t happened, sometimes it can take a huge upheaval to see what’s important in life. This growing public awareness of nature is exactly what we need on a planet that’s facing more pressure than ever before from climate change and the extinction crisis.

Global Bird Weekend was launched this year to celebrate this newfound appreciation of wildlife. Running from Saturday 17th – Sunday 18th October, this birding extravaganza is set to be the biggest ever low-carbon birdwatching event in history. We encourage everyone, regardless of prior knowledge or experience, to take advantage of the fresh air in your local patch and record as many birds as possible – no matter how common – on the eBird app, which you can download free to any smartphone. We encourage you to keep your carbon footprint low by staying close to home, and of course to follow all local and national COVID-19 guidelines keep yourself and others safe. Birding is a great way to get some outdoor exercise at a distance from others – but if you have any concerns, sightings from your home or garden are just as welcome.

This year, all funds raised by the event will support BirdLife’s campaign to end the illegal wild bird trade, which has seized millions of birds from the wild across Asia and driven scores of species to the brink of extinction. We’re hoping that entrants will make a donation to the campaign or set up a fundraising page for themselves or their team. On top of that, every sighting you record on the eBird app will add to the bigger picture of how birds are faring across the world.

What’s more, everyone who registers for Global Bird Weekend will be entered in a free prize draw to win some fantastic goodies, including the new Swarovski NL Pure binoculars.

Children are welcome too! © Gunnar Gudmundsson

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If you’d like to join Global Bird Weekend with friends and participate as a group, you can also register as a team or join one. Teams will be aiming to maximise the number of species recorded and funds raised. On Sunday the 18th, the more artistic among you are encouraged to share your photos, paintings and drawings of birds encountered during the event to celebrate the beauty and wonder of these marvellous creatures.

This brand new event has been set up by Tim Appleton MBE, co-founder of Birdfair, the largest wildlife event in the world – the proceeds of which support a different BirdLife project every year. This year, the physical event was understandably cancelled, with talks and lectures moving online. Tim, although no longer involved in Birdfair, aims to extend the work he started with the festival to develop Global Bird Weekend and raise further funds for BirdLife’s important work.

“Over Global Bird Weekend, I hope Global Birding will not only set a number of world records – the greatest number of species recorded and the largest number of people birdwatching at a single event – but also help raise substantial funding to help stop the illegal bird trade, ” said Tim Appleton.

Global Bird Weekend is also special in that it is set to become the largest birdwatching event focusing on the Autumn migration. The majority of birding “big weekends” take place in the Spring months and focus on the northern hemisphere. This time, we’re likely to get a very different picture of which birds are present in which locations – and so are you.


Eager to get started? Find all the information you need at globalbirding.org

Global Bird Weekend is an event organised by Global Birding In association with BirdLife International, eBird and Swarovski Optik.