Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Big Sit, Big Success!

The annual Big Sit event took place on Sunday, October 12.  Each year, teams across the country and around the globe participate in this 24 hour birding extravaganza.  The goal is to see and hear as many different species of birds as possible, and all the birds must be counted from within a 17-foot diameter circle.

Cape May's Big Sit takes place on the Hawkwatch platform at Cape May Point State Park.  It is a great location because a variety of nearby habitats provide a great diversity of birds.  The team had a goal to beat the North American Big Sit record of 146 species. This record was established in 2009 at Cape May.

A few very dedicated and valuable birders showed up at the Hawkwatch platform right at midnight to begin the count.  They were able to start the list off strong by listening to nocturnal flight calls.  They even heard a Barn Owl!  As the sun came up, more birders arrived and more species were counted.   All were thankful that the weather cooperated, especially after having so much rain the day before. There was definitely a possibility of breaking the record!

Big Sit birders scan the sky in all directions as they continue to add species to their list. 
[Photo by Mary Raikes.]
Around 5:00 pm, it happened.  David La Puma spotted a Baltimore Oriole (species  number 147), and the record was broken!  The Big Sit 2014 was officially an incredible success.  But the count did not end there.  Three more species were observed, setting the new record at 150!!  (A new goal to try to beat next year :))

Special thanks to Skye and the crew at the Avalon Seawatch for giving the Big Sit birders a heads up on some birds that were headed their way.  Also thanks to team captain Tom Reed for getting Cape May involved in the event.  Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Big Sit species list:
Waterfowl: Brant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Wood Duck, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Ruddy Duck
Quails to Grebes: Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe
Petrels to Pelicans: Northern Gannet, Double-crested Cormorant, Brown Pelican
Herons to Ibises: American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron
New World Vultures to Eagles: Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle
Rails to Cranes: Common Gallinule, American Coot
Shorebirds: Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, American Oystercatcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Wilson's Snipe, American Woodcock
Gulls to Auks: Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Parasitic Jaeger
Pigeons to Nightjars: Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk
Swifts to Falcons: Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon
Tyrant Flycatchers to Vireos: Eastern Phoebe, Red-eyed Vireo
Crows to Wrens: Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Carolina Wren
Gnatcatchers to Snow Bunting: Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Veery, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bicknell's Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, American Pipit, Cedar Waxwing
Wood-warblers: Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler
New World Sparrows to Dickcissel: Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting
Blackbirds to House Sparrow: Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, House Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

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