Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.
Anyone with an interest in birds can participate. FeederWatch is conducted by people of all skill levels and backgrounds, including children, families, individuals, classrooms, retired persons, youth groups, nature centers, and bird clubs. Participants will count birds that appear in their count site because of something that they have provided (plantings, food, or water). For each species, report only the highest number of individuals that are seen in view at one time. By following this procedure, it is certain to avoid counting the same bird more than once. Bird counts are reported to scientists at the Lab of Ornithology either over our website or on paper data forms.
Watching birds benefits science, but it can also be a healthy part of your routine. Hundreds of studies have verified that time spent watching nature can reduce stress. So why not slow down and watch the birds? Or if you end up getting bored during the winter when you’re inside so much, keep yourself entertained by watching and counting the birds for science. This would also be a great project to do with your kids.
Visit the Project FeederWatch website to learn more and to sign up at www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw. There is a $15 fee ($12 for Lab members). You may join at any time of the year. You can also view a live FeederCam. Participants receive a Research Kit, which contains instructions, a bird identification poster, a wall calendar, a resource guide to bird feeding, and a tally sheet—everything you need to start counting your birds. U.S. participants receive a subscription to the Lab of Ornithology’s newsletter, BirdScope. Canadian participants, receive Bird Studies Canada’s quarterly publication, BirdWatch Canada. Kits are shipped in the fall (or about two weeks after you sign up when you sign up during the FeederWatch season). You provide the feeder(s) and seed.