The Big Sit! 2019 Statistics

These statistics reflect information submitted by reporting circles. As teams continue to report their Big Sit! results, the statistics on this page will change to reflect up-to-the-minute information.

Team Information: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

Captain: Debbie Beer
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (United States)

Team Checklist

  1. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  2. Mute Swan Cygnus olor
  3. Wood Duck Aix sponsa
  4. American Wigeon Anas americana
  5. Northern Pintail Anas acuta
  6. Gadwall Anas strepera
  7. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
  8. American Black Duck Anas rubripes
  9. Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
  10. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  11. Green-winged Teal Anas crecca
  12. Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
  13. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia
  14. Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  15. Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
  16. Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica
  17. Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
  18. Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
  19. Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
  20. Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla
  21. Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
  22. Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
  23. Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  24. Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
  25. Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
  26. Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
  27. Great Egret Ardea alba
  28. Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
  29. Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
  30. Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  31. Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  32. Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
  33. Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus
  34. Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
  35. Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus
  36. Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus
  37. Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
  38. Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
  39. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
  40. Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
  41. Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
  42. Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
  43. Merlin Falco columbarius
  44. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  45. Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
  46. Common Raven Corvus corax
  47. American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
  48. Fish Crow Corvus ossifragus
  49. Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
  50. Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
  51. Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
  52. Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
  53. Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
  54. Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
  55. American Robin Turdus migratorius
  56. Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
  57. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  58. Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
  59. House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus
  60. American Goldfinch Spinus tristis
  61. Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
  62. Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata
  63. Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus
  64. Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
  65. Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
  66. White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
  67. Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
  68. Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
  69. Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
  70. Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Team Notes

Participants: Debbie Beer, with Adrian Binns, Marty Dellwo, Al Guarante, Katrina Ikswokar, Josh Koplin, Robin Irizarry, Joe Frieberg, Todd Fellenbaum, Karyl Weber, Sara Busch, Michael Walter, Pam Barton, Adrian Melck, Linda Timlin, Jeff Cooney, Jack Creighton, Karin Marcus, George Armistead, Barbara Granger, Mary Ellen Krober, Frank Windfelder, Liz Porter, Julie Fekete, Q Glover, Maribel, Randall and Tori Sindlinger, Janie, Eva marie, Ron, and others. (135 visitors over the day)

Weather: Low 50F, winds 9mph NNW

Location: John Heinz NWR, Philadelphia - Observation Deck

Time At Location: 5:40am - 5:05 pm (11.25 hours)

Sunday, October 13, 2019 - 5:40 am - 5:05 pm. Deb Beer, Adrian Binns, and Marty Dellwo were the first on-site, to lead the 2019 Big Sit at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. This was our 10th Anniversary of the event, started in 2007 by Tony Croasdale, with Adrian Binns, and the late Steve Kacir. They launched the beginning of a now-beloved Philly birding tradition, engaging birders of all experience levels, alongside Refuge visitors interested in nature. Everyone is inspired by the beautiful landscape and remarkable variety of birds and wildlife that depend upon refuge resources. More than one person exclaimed upon seeing our tally board, "you saw all these birds TODAY??!!" We arrived at the observation deck at 5:40 am, about 30 minutes later than usual, after a hiccup at the front gate delayed our entry. Before unloading supplies, we devoted 10 minutes to listening intently for Great Horned Owl before sunrise would silence it. Fortunately, it hooted at 5:53 am, and we happily proceeded with setting-up scopes, tables, and treats for a great day. Fellow birders arrived steadily in the first rays of light, eager to watch the tally board fill fast in the first hour. Great Blue Heron, Canada Geese, and Killdeer vocalized; Mute Swan was distinctive in dim light. Our elevated position on the top deck of the Observation Tower provides good vantage to see and hear a variety of seasonal resident and migratory birds. We scan the 200-acre water impoundment continuously, where dozens of Great Egrets stalked shallow waters, Caspian and Forster’s Terns swooped and dove, and multiple Pied-billed Grebes paddled. We counted all 9 species of duck by 8:30 am, including American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals, and numerous Wood Ducks lounging along the impoundment edges (only Ruddy Duck was absent, a species we don’t see every year). We saw a Peregrine Falcon before 7am, and a Merlin late afternoon, but no kestrel this year. A pair of Common Ravens swooped together over the distant treeline around 2pm; the species was brand new to our Big Sit last year, but is increasingly common. The trees next to the observation deck host our upland species, which awoke around 6:30, with the sounds of Northern Cardinal, Eastern Towhee, American Robin, Carolina Wren, and White-throated Sparrow. Numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers jumped through branches, but no other warblers showed except a lone Common Yellowthroat at the water’s edge below our deck. While trying to find a chickadee or titmouse (both in vain), Robin Irizarry suddenly called-out “Yellow-billed Cuckoo!” All eyes pivoted to the tree, excited about this uncommon species, and brand-new Big Sit bird! Eventually, everyone saw it well, and realized there were a pair! Some of the most notable Big Sit moments didn’t involve rare birds. In the mid-afternoon lull, two young boys came up to the deck, eager to see what it was all about. Their mom nodded approval, when Adrian invited them to look through his scope, and gently pointed out the differences between the two "big white birds" in view (swan and egret). The kids were clearly enthralled, as were the onlooking adults! During one of the many afternoon Bald Eagle sightings - always a crowd-pleaser - two father-son couples came together in one camera frame. One was an elderly man with his middle-aged son, a professional ornithologist who was born and raised in Tinicum. The other man was visiting the Refuge for the first time; he held his toddler and whispered to him in spanish, to look at the beautiful bird. These are the stories that fuel my passion for the Big Sit at Heinz Refuge. I’m proud to be part of such a diverse, urban community of nature-lovers from all backgrounds and experience levels. Thank you to all the Refuge staff, Philly birders, and visitors that make counting birds for conservation a big success each October. I’m grateful for the support, energy, and camaraderie of Big Sitters. The 2019 BIG SIT at Heinz Refuge tallied 135 people, and 70 species, with 1 new addition, bringing the 10-year cumulative total to 127 bird species seen on the second Sunday in October. Thanks again to everyone who came out to share the fun. I look forward to seeing you again next year! -By Debbie Beer

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