The Big Sit – for Birds

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Big sit for birds
The Big Sit

You have heard of the Big Year and the Big Day where birdwatchers compete to get the most number of species by running, driving, flying, and whatever to find new birds. For those of you who don’t have the ambition, energy, ability, or interest in moving around to put checkmarks in your bird list, how about the “Big Sit?” Yes, you and/or your team just sit in one spot and watch birds for 24 hours! Created by the New Haven Bird Club, the Big Sit is like a tailgate party. You can read the rules on the Bird Watcher’s Digest.

Sitting in one spot may not be the most productive way to birdwatch, but it has its appealing features. You can set up a spotting scope and not have to lug it around all day. You can have coolers full of food and liquid refreshment, chairs, blankets, an umbrella, and whatever that you can’t carry with you on a typical birding venture.

There were a couple of times in my ornithological career where I just sat on my butt and watched an amazing number of bird species pass by. While a graduate student teaching ornithology I was reconnoitering a field site for future class field trips and the weather that spring day, a high pressure center between two low pressure centers, caused birds to both concentrate and move through the area. Without moving, I saw at least 50 species, including many warblers, in a couple of hours. A year or two later, while attending a meeting on Dauphin Island, off the coast of Mobile, Alabama, I had a most amazing day. After crossing the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island is one of the first landfalls for migratory birds. Over 350 species of birds have been seen there. Again, I was there in the spring and in one place, wave after wave of birds came through or over, usually in single species flocks. The most spectacular sight was about 75 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks that landed in a tree to rest about 10 feet from me. Again, lots of warblers as well.

I don’t encourage big or little sits as exercise is good for you and you will definitely see more birds. On the other hand, I do encourage looking out your kitchen window to see the birds in your yard or on your lawn. As I have mentioned many times, the great thing about birdwatching is that it is so easy and can be done by anyone almost anywhere. There are even blind birders; check out this information on blind birding.

Less than two years ago I was handicapped by a back injury and spent two weeks in a wheelchair. Unfortunately I was booked to lead a bird walk in Bidwell Park, and I was worried. Fifteen people showed up. I had to stick to paved areas but amazingly we saw about 30 species in two hours and had a grand old time.

So move fast or slow or just sit, but bird.

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