What Is the Big Sit?

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club. Every team that observes the year’s “Golden Bird” has a chance to win $500. Every year, bird watchers from around the globe unite on this special day by participating in this free event, open to any person and club in any country! The Big Sit! is sponsored by Swarovski Optik.

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you may observe.

Some people have called it a “tailgate party for birders.” Find a good spot for bird watching—preferably one with good views of a variety of habitats and lots of birds. Next, create a real or imaginary circle 17 feet in diameter and sit inside the circle for 24 hours, counting all the bird species you see or hear. That’s it. Find a spot, sit in it, have fun. Then submit your findings.

Participants are allowed to come and go from the circle—especially for the purpose of bringing food back into the circle—and the circle need not be be occupied for the entire 24 hours.

There are Big Sit! circles all over the world, including Guatemala, India, the Netherlands, England, Vietnam, and New Zealand.

Although The Big Sit! is a non-competitive birding event, there are three basic categories in which teams can “win”:

  1. Best Overall Count (Most species seen by a single circle—you win Big Sit “braggin’ rights”)
  2. Best State Count (Highest combined total from circles within a state—you win State “braggin’ rights”)
  3. The Big Prize!: Swarovski Optik is offering $500 to the circle who finds the “Golden Bird”. What is the “Golden Bird”?

Raise Money For Your Club!

In past years, BWD encouraged bird clubs to use The Big Sit! as a fundraiser, by organizing a Big Sit team and collecting pledges for each species they tallied.* For example, if 20 club members pledged $0.20 per species and the team tallies 50 species during The Big Sit! That means the team could generate $200 for a special club project.

Captain Herb Fibel from The Asterisks, a team from Mesa, Arizona, reported that the 61 species his team spotted in 2005 helped generate more than $1,000 in pledges for the Maricopa Audubon Society. Congratulations, Team Asterisks!

Download sample pledge forms here:

* Please note that all fundraisers associated with The Big Sit! are conceived and organized independently from Bird Watcher’s Digest . BWD is not responsible for any statements, claims, or activities, financially or otherwise, that are conducted by bird clubs or other organizations that choose to participate in the Big Sit!

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