The Big Sit!

It’s the world’s most sedentary birding event — The Big Sit! This worldwide event is hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and founded by the New Haven (Conn.) Birder’s Club. It takes place all over the world the first weekend in October, and this year, one of the locations will be the Peoria Park District’s Tawny Oaks Field Station in northern Peoria County on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Unlike other birding events (Big Days, Birdathons, etc) in which participants cover large territories, this one is a sampling of birds seen from a single point. Some call it a tailgate party for birders. We call it a challenge. It will be interesting to see just how many species can be seen in a 24-hour period from one place.

The event is also a fundraiser for the Tawny Oaks Field Station. Each year, Tawny Oaks offers great access to the trail system at Singing Woods Nature Preserve. It offers numerous nature programs to the public and serves as a place where people can become involved in the ecological restoration of our natural areas. We do all of this at no cost to the visitor. Now is your opportunity to give back to the park, so that they can continue to provide programs and maintain the facility.

Donors have several options. They can make a flat donation of any dollar amount or, if they like to be a bit more adventurous, they can donate an amount per species observed by the spotter. Finally, if someone is a real gambler at heart, they can take the Golden Challenge. There are five “Golden Birds” on the list: American Goldfinch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Golden-winged Warbler, Common Goldeneye, American Golden Plover and Golden Eagle. The first three are relatively common and are worth $5 each. The Goldeneye and Golden Plover are rare fly-overs and worth $25 each. Finally the Golden Eagle is a very rare visitor and is worth $50. This Golden Challenge can be a stand-alone pledge, or an add-on pledge to either a per/species or flat donation.

Throughout an entire year, we have documented 157 species of birds at Tawny Oaks. However, during the Big Sit, we estimate there will be around 60 or so species that will be present and visible on the day of the event. We have a team with some of the region’s best birders who will be stationed on an observation deck overlooking the prairie and woods. Visitors are welcomed to visit Tawny Oaks anytime from dawn to dusk on Oct. 7 to interact with the bird observers and learn more about bird identification. We will have binoculars and spotting scopes available for visitors to use.

If you would like to be a donor and help support Tawny Oaks programming, facility and trails, you can donate online by visiting the following secure website:

Or you can download a pledge form from the Tawny Oaks webpage here:

If you are a per/species and/or Golden Challenge Donor, fill out the form and we will get back with you about the total amount of the pledge, along with a complete species list of what was seen. All donors, regardless of their donation type or amount will be invited to our Tawny Oaks Spring Open House event that will take place in April 2018. All donations are tax deductible and go directly to support the Tawny Oaks Field Station. For more information, contact me at (309) 681-2858 or

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