by John Hughes
Project FeederWatch is a citizen science project that began in Ontario, Canada in the mid-1970s and partnered with Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology ten years later. It is a winter-long project starting in November and ending mid-April, in which participants periodically count birds at backyard feeders, birdbaths or other local areas with plantings that attract birds.
No particular skill level or background is necessary to participate in the project. Participants will receive a research kit and resources to help attract and identify common winter species including an interactive tool that allows participants to learn about the food and feeder preference of nearly 100 species and how to predict what birds can be attracted to an area. All you have to do is watch your feeder, birdbath or area as much or as little as you like, record what you see, and send in your data. There is an $18 fee for U.S. citizens ($15 for Cornell Lab members) necessary to analyze the data.
The data gathered by people like you will only become more important as predicted changes in climate continue to occur. Check out www.FeederWatch.org where you will find information on joining and access to a free on-line bird identification guide. You can also read about other people’s experience since joining FeederWatch.