What happens in the backyard should not stay in the backyard — at least when it comes to bird feeders.
By sharing information about which birds visit their feeders between November and April, backyard bird watchers can help scientists track changes in bird numbers and movements from year to year, through Project FeederWatch, a citizen-science program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.
Project FeederWatch begins Nov. 14 and runs through early April. Taking part is easy. Anyone can count the numbers and kinds of birds at their feeders and enter their information on the FeederWatch Web site.
Participants submitted nearly 117,000 checklists last season. Since 1987, more than 40,000 people from the United States and Canada have taken part in the project.
“To get the most complete picture of bird movements, we always need new sets of eyes to tell us what species are showing up at backyard feeders,” says David Bonter, leader of Project FeederWatch.
“Participants always tell us how much fun it is and how good it feels to contribute to our understanding of birds by submitting their sightings.”
Project FeederWatch is for people of all ages and skill levels.
To learn more and to sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 982-2473.
In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, a calendar, complete instructions, and Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings.
Participant Nancy Corr of Harrisburg, Ore., sums up her Project FeederWatch experience: “Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to share our love of birding and to participate in something meaningful!”
According to the regional highlights based on 2008-09 FeederWatch reports in the Southwest and California, most participants are seeing the House Finch. They are seeing fewer of the Western Scrub-Jay and more of the Lesser Goldfinch and Eurasian Collared-Dove.