Thursday, October 1, 2009

Watchers Needed to Track Changes in Bird Populations

Ithaca, NY—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 on November 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 website. 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 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, Oregon, sums up her Project FeederWatch experience: “Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to share our love of birding and to participate in something meaningful!”

Regional highlights based on 2008-09 FeederWatch reports:

* Southwest & California: On most lists: House Finch. Fewer reports: Western Scrub-Jay. Increasing: Lesser Goldfinch and Eurasian Collared-Dove.

* Southeast & South-Central: On most lists: Northern Cardinal. Increasing: White-winged Dove and Eurasian Collared-Dove. Rare bird: Yellow-headed Blackbird (Florida).

* Pacific Northwest & Rocky Mountains: On most lists: Dark-eyed Junco. Increasing: Anna’s Hummingbird and Golden-crowned Sparrow. Rare bird: Yellow-throated Warbler (Alberta).

* Northeast quarter of U.S. & Southeastern Canada: On most lists: Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees. Fewer reports: Evening Grosbeak. Rare bird: Green-tailed Towhee (New Jersey).

* North-Central & Mid-Central: On most lists: Downy Woodpecker. Fewer reports: American Crows. Increasing: American Robin and Cedar Waxwing. Rare bird: Cape May Warbler (Saskatchewan).

* Alaska & Northern Canada: On most lists: Common Redpoll. Increasing: Pine Grosbeak and Bohemian Waxwing. Fewer reports: Steller’s Jay. Rare bird: Purple Finch (Alaska).

Visit the “Explore Data” section of the website to find the top 25 birds reported in your region and bird summaries by state or province.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s web site at

Questions or Comments?
Call us toll-free at (800) 843-BIRD (2473)

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