Project FeederWatch

If you live in the U.S. or Canada and you love birds, you might want to consider getting involved with Project FeederWatch. In doing so you will not only enjoy some great bird watching, but you will be helping conservationists in their on-going efforts to monitor bird populations.

By now you’re probably wondering what Project FeederWatch is about. Basically it’s a massive bird survey that takes place during the course of the winter months. Most people monitor the feeders in their own backyards, but you can also do some quality bird watching around other bird feeders in community areas or nature centers. Volunteers involved in the project basically count the highest numbers of the various species that they find feeding at their feeder of choice periodically. They then relay the information back to scientists and conservationists who find it invaluable in helping to track the broad scale movements for winter bird populations. It is also helpful in establishing the abundance of the various bird species and in helping find any long-term trends in bird distribution. The entire project is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies, which is located in Canada, and has thus far been a very successful initiative.

Probably one of the great things about Project FeederWatch is that people of various ages, skill levels and backgrounds can participate in it. Families may use it as a way to bond and get closer to each other while children can make it an exciting holiday project. Older individuals are definitely not excluded, while entire groups of people such as classrooms, youth groups and bird clubs regularly participate in this annual activity. Retired persons also find that it is a great way to feel useful again and enjoy nature at the same time, while nature centers get involved because they recognize the importance of this kind of research. Each person involved donates just $15, which is used to for things like staff support, web design, materials, data analysis and a year-end report. The entire project is funded by these donations. In return for their investment, participants get a research kit, which contains a bird identification poster, a wall calendar, instructions on what to do, data forms and a guide to bird feeding. They also get the satisfaction of knowing that the bird watching they are doing in their own back yard is making a big difference to bird populations around the world.

If you’re interested in getting involved in Project FeederWatch, you can simply log onto the official website and join at any time. The 2008-2009 bird watching season started on November 8 and will continue all the way through until April 3 next year. So make the most of your holidays and get involved with this great initiative!