Benefits of Project Wildbird

In 2005 the board of directors of the Wild Bird Feeding Industry (WBFI) took the initiative to establish a not-for-profit foundation to undertake research relating to food and feeder preferences of the wild birds in Canada and the United States. Running from September 2005 through to August 2008, Project Wildbird, funded by the WBFI Research Foundation, is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive bird feeding studies ever undertaken.

Project Wildbird aims to gather scientific data on seasonal wild bird feeding specific to each of the thirteen geographic regions in the United States and Canada. The advantages of this information, which will be available to suppliers and consumers, are numerous. Bird enthusiasts will be able to attract birds to their backyards in greater numbers by offering them feed and feeders according to their preferences. It is anticipated that this will encourage more families to take an interest in their local bird communities. Bird lovers who have been unsuccessful in attracting birds in the past are sure to have more success when offering area and season-specific food. Feed suppliers can make use of this information in their marketing strategies, production planning and distribution of their products.

Project Wildbird is making use of two different approaches – observational and experimental. Both approaches encourage bird enthusiasts to register as Citizen Scientists and collect data by observing bird activity in their own backyards.

The observational approach takes into account the fact that people lead busy lives and often have limited leisure time. The data required is not complicated and does not take up much time. Citizen Scientist observers need to monitor the birds in their yard during all four seasons of the year. Specific dates have been selected according to peak distribution of birds relating to breeding, wintering and migratory seasons of various geographic regions. Observations need to be recorded by various species, the feed offered and type of feeder used.

The experimental approach of Project Wildbird requires that Citizen Scientists dedicate additional time to the project and follow a well-defined system. Participants are provided with various feeds and feeders and need to monitor the birds that visit these feeders in a study that also spans the four seasons of the year.

The response to Project Wildbird has been very positive. Whether bird enthusiasts choose to participate in the observational or experimental approach of Project Wildbird, they can have the satisfaction of knowing that they are making a significant contribution to the welfare of wild birds in Northern America – to the benefit of themselves, their children, grandchildren and all future generations.