Saturday, November 15, 2008

Project Feeder Watch

Thousands of bird watchers in Georgia and across the nation will be keeping a close eye on their feeders this winter as part of Project FeederWatch. The 22nd season for this popular citizen-science project runs from Saturday, Nov. 8, through April 3. But it's not too late to join!

FeederWatch participants help scientists monitor changes in bird populations by tracking birds at their feeders during the 21 weeks. Georgians are encouraged to join in, contributing to the science, conservation and enjoyment of North American feeder birds.

Project FeederWatch surveys birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas and other sites. Participants periodically count the highest numbers of each species they see at their feeders for the period. The data help scientists track broad-scale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Watchers also benefit. More than 100 studies have shown that getting closer to nature reduces stress and promotes a feeling of well being.

Highlights from the most recent season include the largest southward movement of red-breasted nuthatches in the project’s history, part of an expected influx of northern birds flying farther south when their food supplies run short, according to FeederWatch. Among rare birds reported was a streak-backed oriole in Loveland, Col. - the state’s first report of this Mexico native - and a dovekie deposited by a December nor’easter in Newton, Mass., the first time this North Atlantic seabird has been recorded in Project FeederWatch.

The project is conducted by individuals and groups of all skill levels. While the season opens Saturday, participants are encouraged to join any time.

To learn more or sign up, visit Project Feeder Watch website or call the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473. The fee is $15 ($12 for lab members). Participants receive the "FeederWatcher’s Handbook,” an identification poster of the most common feeder birds in their area, a calendar, instructions and the FeederWatch annual report, “Winter Bird Highlights.”

No comments: