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Tag Archive | "Project FeederWatch"

FeederWatch asks: whose feathers get ruffled?


 

Downy woodpecker by Erroll Tasking

Annual winter survey collects data about feeder birds

For more than 30 years, people who feed wild birds have been reporting their observations to Project FeederWatch to track trends in bird populations. This helps scientists better understand what happens to birds facing challenges such as climate change, disease, and habitat loss. FeederWatchers can also contribute to new research on feeder-bird behavior. Now is the time to sign up for or renew participation in this long-running citizen-science project.
Participants make two-day counts from November through early April. They can spend as much or as little time as they like collecting data, so it is one of the easiest projects to try. Even counting birds once or twice all winter is a valuable contribution. But many people love the project so much, they count birds every weekend.

“In addition to reporting which species visit their feeders, people can now report bird behavior, too,” says project leader Emma Greig. “We want to learn more about the ‘dominance hierarchy,’ or who’s got the ‘upper wing’ when it comes to competition at the feeder. Who gets displaced by whom? Is bigger always better? Do birds fight more with their own kind or other species? There are so many questions to answer and this is the first time anyone has been able to ask those questions on a continental scale.”

So far, analyses of interactions for 136 species from FeederWatch sites for the last season have produced interesting results. In some cases, size matters, so that puts the mild-mannered Wild Turkey at the top since a chickadee is not likely to evict a turkey that’s found a feast. Starlings, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers appear to follow a rare triangular form of dominance (starlings dominate red-headed woodpeckers, who dominate red-bellied woodpeckers, who dominate starlings), but more data are needed to confirm the pattern. 

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. To join tens of thousands of other FeederWatch participants, sign up online at FeederWatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In Canada, contact Bird Studies Canada at (888) 448-2473, toll free.

In return for a participation fee of $18 in the U.S. ($15 for Cornell Lab members) and $35 in Canada, participants receive the FeederWatch Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings. Canadians receive membership in Bird Studies Canada.

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NATIONAL BIRDFEEDING MONTH


 

Become a FeederWatcher to help the birds

This Red-breasted Nuthatch was a people’s choice winner in the birdspotter contest for Project Feederwatch. It was taken by Laurie Salzler, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

This Red-breasted Nuthatch was a people’s choice winner in the birdspotter contest for Project Feederwatch. It was taken by Laurie Salzler, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Every bird observation reported makes a difference

Watching birds is a joy unto itself—but you can easily make it mean so much more just by reporting the birds you see to Project FeederWatch. This popular citizen-science project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology launched its 29th season on November 14. Whether you’re already a dedicated bird watcher or would like to give it a try, sign up now at FeederWatch.org to support the scientific study and conservation of birds with your observations.
“Currently, we are tracking several range expansions in both the western and eastern part of the continent,” says project leader Emma Greig. “We are seeing that Lesser Goldfinches, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Bushtits are on the rise in the West, and we are still investigating the causes. Northern Cardinals, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Carolina Wrens are expanding their ranges in the East, and scientists think it may be due to climate change. We need everyone’s observations to detect these kinds of large-scale trends in bird populations.”
More than 20,000 FeederWatchers contribute their data by reporting the highest number of each species they see at their feeders during periodic two-day counts through early April. It’s simple to do and is a great activity for families and school groups.
Explore the data submitted to FeederWatch using online tools that allow you to see trends in your own backyard, in a specific region, or across the continent.
“We like to mix in a little fun, too,” says Greig. “Our BirdSpotter Photo Contest will be back, sponsored by Droll Yankees. The contest is open to everyone, not  just FeederWatchers, and is free to enter. We’re going to pick two winners each week. Even if you don’t enter a photo, you can vote for your favorites, and who doesn’t like looking at pretty bird pictures?” Learn more about the contest at feederwatch.org/birdspotter.

To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up online, visit www.FeederWatch.org. To register by phone in the U.S., call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In Canada, contact Bird Studies Canada at (888) 448-2473, toll-free.
In return for the $18 fee ($15 for Cornell Lab members), U.S. participants receive the FeederWatch Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings, as well as the Cornell Lab’s printed newsletter, All About Birds News. The fee is $35 in Canada.
Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

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