All About Birds Blog

Project FeederWatch Takes a Look at the Winter Ahead

By on Thursday, October 18th, 2012 - 3 Comments

American Tree Sparrow by Susan Szeszol, Project FeederWatch

The 26th season of Project FeederWatch begins November 10, and participants are needed more than ever. By watching your feeders from November through April and submitting what you see, you’re making it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent. New or returning participants can sign up anytime.

After unusual winter weather in some parts of the country last season, many participants found themselves asking, “Where are the birds?”—but the story might be different this year.

The AccuWeather long-range forecasting service is predicting some big storms in the Northeast this winter, so FeederWatchers in that region may see more birds at their feeders than they did last winter. Forecasts also call for another year of below-normal snowfall for the Midwest, above-normal snowfall and below-normal temperatures for the central and southern Rockies, and a wet winter with above-normal precipitation for the Gulf Coast and Southeast.

“We’ll have to see if those predictions pan out and how they might affect feeder-bird numbers,” says David Bonter, project leader for FeederWatch. “The one number we definitely want to see increase is the number of people taking part in FeederWatch. It’s easy to do, and the information is incredibly valuable in helping us better understand what’s going on in the environment and in the lives of the birds we enjoy so much.”

Other things to look forward to as the season approaches:

  • new photo gallery featuring some of the many photos FeederWatchers sent in during the 2011-12 season. We enjoy seeing what’s visiting your feeders each and every year!
  • This year’s Winter Finch Forecast shows it could be a great winter for birds at feeders—so don’t miss it! Red-breasted Nuthatches, Red Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks, and other birds are likely to be on the move after a relatively poor summer for cone crops. Read the full forecast for more details.
  • Winter Bird Highlights is our annual summary of the previous season’s results. The 2012 issue is being mailed to Canadian FeederWatch participants in their kits and will be mailed to U.S. participants with the fall issue of Living Bird News (late October). You can also get a PDF version online and read it immediately.
  • A new resource for educators. Pennington Wild Bird Feed and the Cornell Lab have developed a new program for educators who want to use wild bird activities to teach K-12 science concepts. Teachers can even get a free window feeder from Pennington by attending BirdSleuth’s “Feeding our Feathered Friends” webinar. Note: We can ship the window feeders to U.S. school addresses only. Learn more about this great offer.

To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members), participants receive the FeederWatcher Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to your feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings, as well as the Cornell Lab’s quarterly newsletter, Living Bird News.

(Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. Image: American Tree Sparrow by Susan Szeszol, from our 2012 FeederWatch Photo Gallery.)

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3 Comments

  1. Kate Johnson says:

    We’re already seeing Stellar Jays at our house in east-side urban Salt Lake City; we’ve had them before, but this seems quite early, they’ve been showing up since about Oct 10. Speculating that may be a sign of a snowier winter, or could also be that food is already scarce at higher elevations.

  2. Philip Von Bargen says:

    While robins are gathering up and Canada geese flocking southward, juncos showed up here in Morrisonville, NY, this rainy weekend.

  3. Shawna says:

    We’ve just had Evening Grosbeaks here in northwest Tennessee, the first occurence for my state in many, many years!

    I’ve been feeding birds at this same location since I was a child, 25 years ago, and we’ve just had our very first Red-breasted Nuthatches on our feeders as well. What an interesting winter it’s going to be!

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