The BIG SIT at Heinz Refuge



On Sunday, October 13, 2013, the Friends of Heinz Refuge once again hosts the BIG SIT at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. This annual, international event includes teams of people gathered together in their favorite locations to identify as many bird species as possible from one 17-foot diameter circle. The Heinz Refuge “Big Sittas” particpated in the last several years, finding a cumulative total of 107 species in 4 years participating, with a record number of 77 species each in 2011 and 2012, from our location at the Observation Tower. Click here for species list (Excel).

We are delighted that over 150 friends and supporters join us throughout the day, some for a few minutes, and some for many hours! Together we share stories, snacks and fun, all the while looking for bird species to add to our list. Our first sighting of Bald Eagles occurs early in the morning, as the resident pair soars over the impoundment hunting for fish, the first of several eagle sightings during the day. We enjoy many raptors, including Peregrine Falcons hunting swallows, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks high in the sky, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks spooking little birds. We see rafts of wood ducks, thousands of swallows, cormorants and Great Blue Herons perched on poles. The vast majority of species are logged well before noon, with just a dozen or so added in the second half of the day.

Our record-breaking number of species, 77, reminds us all of the importance of habitat for birds, animals and all wildlife. 77 avian species and thousands of individual birds utilized the rich ecological resources of Heinz Refuge on this day alone. And that’s just the birds! Imagine the mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, butterflies and other creatures who rely upon this precious National Wildlife Refuge?!

The BIG SIT serves as an important fundraiser for the Friends of Heinz Refuge (FOHR). BIG SIT support helps fund important FOHR programs such as Pollinator Garden, Weed Warriors, Environmental Education programs, Kids Summer Camps, Family Fishing Day, Groundhog Day Family Festival, Winter Bird Count for Kids, Bald Eagle Walks, Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition, and more.

Thanks to everyone who donated for our previous Big Sits. We hope you’ll support Heinz Refuge Big Sittas again this year. To make a pledge or send in a donation, please use our Big Sit pledge form (PDF) to contribute based on the number of birds we found at the Big Sit or make a single contribution. Mail the form to the Friends of Heinz Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19153. Your support makes a big difference for the wildlife at Heinz Refuge, who rely upon our conservation activities. Your donations are much appreciated by the Friends of Heinz Refuge. For more information, contact Big Sit chairperson Debbie Beer at debbeer(at) or 610-955-4098.

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