You don’t need a surveyor to
lay out your circle and outline it
with white chalk like a baseball
diamond (but circular). I’m told,
though, that once on the eve of
the Sit, our team outlined the
circle using birdseed, hoping to
attract birds. That seems to me
like stretching the rules. Moreover,
it didn’t work. Mice and chipmunks ate all the seed.
Of course, you would not
expect anyone to stand in the
circle all day. So, standard equipment includes lawn chairs, hammocks, blankets, and other creature comforts. Ice chests, picnic
coolers, and insulated bags are
also common. Food is a necessity.
There are unconfirmed rumors
that some teams equip their circle
with BBQ grills, televisions, and
I reluctantly agreed to participate in my first Big Sit last year.
Our circle is located on the back
lawn of an old, unoccupied 1870
mansion, now a county park. It
sits atop a hill with meadows sloping down to the Hudson River.
With the leaves dropping from
riverside trees, we had an unob-
structed two-mile view due west
across the river to the New Jersey
Palisades. Tall trees border our
view to the south. To the north, a
butterfly and hummingbird gar-
den attracts nectar-loving birds,
and the foundation plantings
around the old mansion teem with
backyard birds. Migrating hawks
navigate down the river, and four
bird feeders filled to brim are effec-
tive lures for many songbirds.
It seems like a good location.
In previous years at this site, the
Big Sit team usually saw or heard
more than 50 species, with a
record high of 67. Naturally we
hoped to break the record.
When the big day arrived (or
more accurately, The Big Sit day)
I was still ambivalent, not con-
vinced I would enjoy it. I warned
our team that I didn’t know how
much time I would actually be
able to spend at the Sit. That was
my excuse in case I was bored and
wanted to leave during the day.
Two of the more serious team
members arrived at our circle
before sunrise to listen for owls. I