Monday, October 06, 2008

Asking Birds to Stick Around

I am hoping that our brown thrashers stick around for just one more week.

OK. Obsession confession time.

Like an out of control sports fan or a chocoholic, I, too, have something I focus way too hard on, spend way to much time and money on, and just can't get enough of: The Big Sit.

I am a Big Sit fanatic.

If you look at the Bird Watcher's Digest homepage, you'll see a countdown clock (in the orange bar just under the header) devoted to The Big Sit. Regular readers of this blog know all too well my love of this sedentary birding event, which is my favorite happening of the bird-watching year.

When September is beginning to flirt with October, I get all antsy. The Big Sit is coming soon!

The week before each Big Sit, I spend a lot of time getting ready—practicing my ID skills on passing fall migrants, trying to get a feel for what birds are around, schlepping the hundreds of bits of gear and clothing up to the birding tower in advance, and, most importantly of all, asking the summer birds to stay just a little longer.

Here are some of the birds seen or heard in our farmyard and surroundings this morning, all of which I asked to stay:
Brown thrasher, gray catbird, cedar waxwing, chimney swift, eastern phoebe, blackpoll warbler, Tennessee warbler, Cape May warbler, black-throated green warbler, red-eyed vireo, chipping sparrow, Lincoln's sparrow, field sparrow, eastern meadowlark.

There are others just arriving which are likely to be here (still I am friendly with them—one never knows): white-throated sparrow, yellow-bellied sapsucker, yellow-rumped warbler.

And the less-common birds among our residents, which I do not need to beg to stay, but which I DO ply with many enticements, nonetheless, including song sparrow, eastern towhee, our five regular woodpeckers, Carolina wren...

We always hope for a cold front right before the Sit, to bring in the fall and winter birds: migrant hawks, dark-eyed junco, fox sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, hermit thrush, migrant blackbirds, perhaps some passing waterfowl.

But we don't want it to be TOO cold in the weeks leading up to the Sit, lest the ruby-throated hummingbird, our blend of fall migrant warblers, the flycatchers, orioles, and tanagers, and other fair-weather feathered friends decide to split for the tropics too early.

This year's big wish bird for me? Sandhill crane. It would be a new bird for the property list and I just know there are cranes flying over our farm in the fall. Birders two hours north of our place saw more than 100 sandhills just yesterday!

Nothing would please me more than to add sandhill crane to the Indigo Hill bird list during the 2008 Big Sit.

I am counting down the days and hours...and hoping that the birds are hearing my pleas.

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At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Derek Stoner said...


Your sentiments are shared by many-- won't they please stay until that special day!

Can the stars align just this once to bring all the great birds before our binoculars during the Big Sit!?

Our two Big Sit sites in Delaware are rooting for you. I hope the Whipple Bird Club sets a new record this year!

-- Derek from Delaware

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Rondeau Ric said...

Morning Bill.
We still have 2 hummingbirds as of this morning, 3 woodpecker species and a few gulls. Other than that we can't buy a bird at our feeders. Hopefully they are on thier way to Whipple.

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Bill of the Birds said...


Yep, I hope so, too. We still have birds this morning, but at least one, maybe two cold fronts between now and Sunday.


At least you DE Big Sitters are within striking distance of an ocean! Good luck!

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Kathiesbirds said...

Your cranes may be heading my way. I visited Whitewater Draw for the first time earlier this year when there were over 12,000 of them there. What an amazing sight! I hope your birds stay around for the Big Sit. I have yet to participate in it. Perhaps maybe this year...I did see over 100 Swainson's hawks in Rio Rico on sunday and the story and photos will be posted tomorrow! It was my first time ever witnessing that migratory event. Happy sitting!

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Julie Zickefoose said...

I am personally entreating each and every warbler and kinglet I see to hang out on Indigo Hill for another four days. I think it'll work.

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous KatDoc said...

I wish you a terrible time and hope that no one sees any birds at all during this year's Big Sit at Indigo Hill, only because I cannot get away from the ball-and-chain called "work." And here I thought I was finally going to meet Rondeau Ric and Mrs. Rondeau, too, as well as have a chance to visit with you all.

~Kathi, sulking and pouting

PS: OK, I changed my mind. I will send telepathic messages to the birds to show up in vast numbers, and wish you all the best at breaking your BS record. (That's "Big Sit," not the other thing.)

~K, who does have Sandhill Crane on her Yard List

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Bill of the Birds said...

KatDoc. That's a bummer, but congrats on the sandhill crane! I bet you'll add Rondeau to your yard list one day, too.

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

Bill, that's the best photo of a Brown Thrasher I've seen. A bird I know well (can you believe that?).

I hope your summer list stays for a while, you have your cold front, and your Big Sit is as memorable as the others.

Don't forget the Cheetos.


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