On May 9, you may come upon someone with binocs staring at you. If you do, look behind you. Chances are there’ll be a bird close by that the person wants to record, both physically and perhaps vocally.

That day there will be thousands of people, world-wide, doing their best to record every bird they see and hear. It’s what Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab calls, “Global Big Day.”

Last year, in the Western Hemisphere, participants and species seen during the Big Day were in the thousands. In the United States there was a total of 727 people acting as leaders on trips, but in Columbia there were 1,595.

The Global Big Day was the brain child of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. John Fitzpatrick, director of the lab, says:

“If there’s one basic thing that the Lab stands for, it’s the idea that we have an opportunity to make a difference.” (View his video at www.birds.cornell.edu/home/.)

Global Big Day is also an annual celebration of the birds around you, and this year is no different. It’s also an opportunity to place the new birds you see on your Life List. Joining the celebrants will make you a part of a global birding community.

Participating is relatively easy; you can even report birds seen from your home window.

To report your observations, go to www.birds.cornell.edu/home/, click on Get Involved, then choose eBird. You will be asked to sign up for a free eBird account. Or you can download the Lab’s free eBird mobile app.

If you have more time, and are so inclined, you can also submit checklists of birds throughout the day at different times. You never know what you might spot. Your observations will help to better understand global bird populations through products like the animated abundance maps supplied by eBird Science.

If you ever had the inclination to get into what is known as “bird watching,” which today we know as “birding,” and want to put these birds on your personal Life List, this is the time to not only get involved, but to have people all around you to help. On top of that, the Cornell Lab is offering participants the opportunity to help financially. Visit the web site for more information.