The idea is simple, really. Plunk yourself down someplace outdoors and sit still for 15 minutes—no electronic devices, no books, just your eyes, ears, and sense of smell wide open. What do you observe?
On Mother’s Day I was making a call to my dear 90-year-old mother while sitting indoors near our front picture window. It was early morning, chilly and overcast. While talking with Mom, I noticed the little junco leave its nest on our front porch.
Ten minutes later, still deep in my conversation with Mom, I noticed the junco return with an insect in its beak. The four blue, speckled eggs had hatched, on Mother’s Day, no less!
After finishing my call with Mom, I began my Sit Spot exercise. I actually could not go outdoors because there was no place to sit without interfering with the junco mother and father’s 10 minute feeding interludes. For nearly an hour I watched the faithful parents in their routine. Every day since then I have spent a lot of time at my Sit Spot.
My indoor Sit Spot is close to home; nature is present; I am alone and safe; my attitude is one of curiosity and openness, but I am sitting indoors. (So, humble apologies to Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows, whose description of a sit spot very definitely intended a Sit Spot to be outdoors.)
A Sit Spot reaps the greatest rewards if you revisit your spot on a regular basis—i.e. become an expert on the comings and goings on your little piece of earth.
By watching the junco nest from first hatch to fledging these past 12 days, I have been stunned and amazed at the rapid growth of these little birds. And I am really, really impressed with mama and papa junco who never, ever fly straight into the nest. They zigzag from nearby post to bush looking carefully for the presence of any predator and then dart in, feed their completely silent little charges, and head back out for more food.
Now that the fourth and final young junco has left the nest, I have no way of tracking how the parents keep feeding their young or if marauding crows capture and eat one of the young. However, just two days after the final baby fledged I was reaching for the garden hose and one of the babies ran deeper into a bush, peeping all the way.
I have gained deepest respect for the diligence of junco parents and am reminded again of the incredible fragility and strength of life.