When my kids were young, we set up a bird feeder and tacked the bird identification poster on the wall. We loaded a steel garbage can with bird seed and suet packets and made sure there was a field guide and binoculars on the windowsill. Then we signed up for Feeder Watch, a fun citizen science project through Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Carolina Wren by Ann Duvall (permission from CLO)|
Back then, we filled out data sheets by hand and mailed them in at the end of the season. On days we weren't counting birds we came up with other things to study. Like how many kinds of birds made up the "feeder flock." And whether chickadees perching on the clothesline observed "social distance". And various ways to frustrate squirrels intent on raiding the sunflower seeds.
The cool thing was that, by observing birds at the feeder we were providing scientists with data that could lead to a scientific discovery.
This year, Feeder Watch begins November 14. If you are new (and even if you're not) there's a webinar on Thursday, November 19 to help you get started: Winter Bird Feeding 101 with Project FeederWatch. Dr. Emma Greig and Holly Grant will answer questions about feeders, foods, and the birds that frequent our yards. You can sign up here.