By Nicole Hamilton
When I first moved to Loudoun, over a decade ago, I set up my first bird feeder and bought a little pocket size guide to backyard birds. Sitting at our breakfast table, with a cat on my lap and binoculars in hand, I was glued to all the happenings right outside our window as I discovered all sorts of “new” birds…. I was definitely hooked.
About that same time, I discovered Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and started going on bird walks. That, combined with jumping into Cornell’s Project Feederwatch, were my introductions to birding and I like to think I’m better for it 🙂 If you haven’t heard about Project Feederwatch, I wanted to share some information on it here, and encourage you to come out on some of our monthly bird walks. We also offer occassional classes on the introduction to bird watching so keep an eye out for those too. You’ll meet lots of great new friends and see some really cool birds that call Loudoun home!
Project FeederWatch: 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 www.feederwatch.org 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!”