Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Support the Big Sit!

The Big Sit! is an effort to tally as many bird species as possible within 24 hours, from the confines of an officially designated 17-foot diameter circle. The Big Sit! concept was formalized by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club in 1993, and later Bird Watcher's Digest stepped in to provide sponsorship. I wrote in more detail about Big Sits in last Sunday's Columbus Dispatch, RIGHT HERE.

Big Sits are a lot of fun, and tax all of a birder's identification skills. They can also be used as an interesting way to raise funds for worthy causes. The Big Sit! occurs this coming weekend, October 11th & 12th, and well over 150 circles will be formed and sat in all across the States and beyond.

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center (GIAC) just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio. The center opened about five years ago, and one of its major missions is to expose kids to nature. Because of the center's location, it draws lots of inner city school kids, and helps to teach them about the natural world. That's a righteous cause, and one that I know of many of us are keenly interested in. Thus, I was flattered to be asked to join GIAC's board, and accepted of course.

The GIAC is about as environmentally friendly a building as one can construct, and that includes the vegetated roof, seen here. One day, I was gazing up at the structure, and the light bulb illuminated over my head. BIG SIT! The rooftop should be an ideal place to set up a 17-foot diameter circle and count away.

Fast forward and the time is nearly upon us. Along with Bill Heck, Columbus Audubon's immediate past president, ace birder Steve Landes (he found the recent mega-rarity Reddish Egret [CLICK HERE]), Suzan Jervey, and probably others, I'll be up on that roof A LOT come this Sunday, October 12th. You're free to join us for as little or as long as you wish, if you want to get in some sedentary birding. Our circle will be on the highest point of the roof, all the way to the back right in the photo. We (at least Bill and I, for starts) will take up position just after midnight this Sunday, and stay there (breaks are permitted!) well into the following evening. If it is a clear calm night, it's amazing how many species can be detected after dark by their calls.

This is the view from our circle, looking north and east. The field and wetlands draw a diversity of birds, and the Peregrine Falcons that hang out on downtown skyscrapers make occasional passes through the area.

Just west of the center is the mighty Scioto River, and its presence should mean lots of birds. This locale is a migratory freeway, and I bet we have a few dozen species checked off by sunrise. Because of the habitat diversity in view of the Big Sit circle, I'd think we will muster at least 60 species, and possibly many more than that. It'll be interesting to see what the total turns out to be.

Progress updates will be posted to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center's website, RIGHT HERE. As we tick new species, Jeff Yost and crew will post them to the site, along with information about the species.

Finally, we hope to raise a few bucks to support the center and its mission. A common way of donating to Big Sits is via a per-species pledge. Maybe it's $5.00 a species, $1.00 a species, or even a quarter a species. Every contribution is appreciated! If you would like to help fund our mission (madness), please visit the Grange Insurance Audubon Center website RIGHT HERE.

If you want more details about the Big Sit! or would like to come up on the roof for a bit, please email me at: jimmccormac35 AT

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