Saturday, October 11, 2008

Project FeederWatch!

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


NW Nature Nut said...

I think I will participate! I saw a post on the BirdChick's blog about it and it got me thinking. I'll keep you posted.

Beverly said...

Well a regular reader of Sharon's sites, HOW did I miss that? I'd read several of the 'citizen scientist' projects on the Cornell site since I 'discovered birds' last February...this will be my first time participating in this (perhaps most) important count.

I hope I left enough info to's gonna be EASY to play!

A Portland Backyard said...

Awesome photos! We love the blog and it's always great to see other FeederWatchers promoting the count!

Beverly said...

LOL Well, I'm glad you like the long as you realize I've not posted a picture of my own in awhile. Lately, I've been using Wikipedia and include this disclaimer "All photos in this post from Wikipedia". I don't have a long lens or a scope [sigh], so there is no point in shooting unless they are very close. Earlier in the year...I got a few good ones.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Yep, when the Project Feeder Watch packet arrives in the mail, you know that winter is on its way. Glad to know that you are participating too.

Rambling Woods said...

I just started doing PFW 3 years ago and I am new to birding. The e-mail list that PFW has is really nice as there are long time birders who willingly share information. I have enjoyed it...

Beverly said...

Chas, good to ‘see’ you again! What a lovely way to look forward to my packet! Personally, I can hardly wait till it arrives, as I’ve said…my feeders are strangely quiet; winter cold will bring me some birds! :)

I just let my dog out…it’s still green out there; but it’s snowing! October 14th… it’s been a lovely fall.

Michelle started an “October Count” …which has lit my interest in counting. Several of us have figured out how to keep our lists on the sidebar to our blogs. It would be neat if we could all do that for the PFW…just to see who’s seeing what. Wanna play?

LOL I started birding this past February, this will be my first PFW. I will have to look for that e-mail list…I’m always coming up with questions!

Thanks for visiting!!!

Susan Gets Native said...

I did FeederWatch for quite a few years, but my involvement with our bird of prey rescue has sucked most of my watching time. But you are is really easy. And beneficial.
Thanks for posting about it.

Beverly said...

Susan, thanks so much for visiting…it gave me an opportunity to check your blogs; WOW. I sure do appreciate your work…not only with the raptors but also getting the word out about feral cats. You probably noticed my piece here, too; we can’t talk about it too much. By the way…congrats on the new car! :)