The 26th season of Project FeederWatch begins November 10, and participants are needed more than ever. By watching their feeders from November through April and submitting their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, bird watchers make it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent. New or returning participants can sign up anytime at www.FeederWatch.org.
After unusual winter weather in some parts of the country last season, many participants found themselves asking, “Where are the birds?”
“Warmer temperatures and lack of snow cover means birds can find more natural food so they may visit feeders less,” explains FeederWatch leader David Bonter. “But even if participants are not seeing many birds, that’s still valuable information we need to detect population changes on a broad scale.”
Some forecasters are predicting some big storms in the Northeast this winter, so FeederWatchers in the region may see more birds at their feeders than they did last winter. Forecasts also call for another year of below-normal snowfall for the Midwest, above-normal snowfall and below-normal temperatures for the central and southern Rockies, and a wet winter with above-normal precipitation for the Gulf Coast and Southeast.
“We’ll have to see if those predictions pan out and how they might affect feeder-bird numbers,” Bonter says. “The one number we definitely want to see increase is the number of people taking part in FeederWatch. It’s easy to do, and the information is incredibly valuable in helping us better understand what’s going on in the environment and in the lives of the birds we enjoy so much.”
To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up, visit www.FeederWatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members), participants receive the FeederWatcher Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to your 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 quarterly newsletter, Living Bird News.
Photo: American Goldfinch by Wayne Hoch (provided).