Project FeederWatch, the popular ‘Citizen-Science Project’ with Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, starts next month! It runs November through part of April…just 21 weeks. More than 10,000 participants across North America have made Project FeederWatch part of their winter ritual…this will be my first time; having just begun ‘birding’ early this year.
It sounds easy; pick an area you can see from one spot where you have attracted birds with feeders or landscaping; I’ll pick the spot in my kitchen where the bay-window looks over my entire backyard…and count the birds from the same spot twice a week. The idea is to choose two consecutive days, scheduled in advance…and count the largest number of each species you see at the same time. If something comes up and you can’t count one day…it’s not the end of the world; but we’re not to change counting days. If we see an interesting bird on a different day, there is a way to make note of it, too…it’s all for the love of science, doncha know! (And no…one does not have to pledge a full day of counting.)
As far as how to count, they offer a tally sheet and instructions oh how to keep it simple. If you see six Juncos one time and ten another; the count is ten. They want the greatest number of individuals at one time, so the math is painless. There are suggestions for how to count large numbers and other tricky situations. One can enter data online or mail it in…it really IS super easy! Since 2005 Project FeederWatch has published an annual summary of results from the prior season in Winter Bird Highlights. There are several very interesting News Articles published and available for online viewing; including feature stories about specific sightings like the Streak-backed Oriole in Colorado and the Clay-colored Robin in New Mexico. Wow, I wonder if it was seen on my pal’s property down there.
Is it important to count? Does every bird matter? Does your count matter? Check out how FeederWatch data is used by Lab research in Scientific Publications.
There is also a very informative page where one can learn about feeders, food, plantings, tricky bird IDs, rare, diseased and other strange-looking birds…and some advice on how to ‘avoid’ unwanted visitors to your feeders.
Michelle, over at The Northwest Nature Nut started a Great Bird Count of October that several of us enjoyed. It was great fun to read all the diversity witnessed and humorous stories shared. You can see my (rather slow) progress on the sidebar here. I hope a bunch of us also participate in this Project FeederWatch…it seems to me that for very little extra work, our hobby can provide scientific data that will help the birds we are so interested in watching.
You can sign up for Project Feeder Watch, here!
All photos in this post from Wikipedia