Citizen scientists: Join the action at Project FeederWatch

10/26/2013 | 0

Red-bellied Woodpecker by Rob Mancini.

Red-bellied Woodpecker by Rob Mancini.

A new season for one of our favorite citizen-science projects kicks off two weeks from today. Project FeederWatch begins on Saturday, November 9. You and anyone you know with an interest in birds and nature are invited to take part, so spread the word.

During Project FeederWatch, which runs from November through April, tens of thousands of people across North America keep tabs on the birds that come to their feeders, then submit their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The data help reveal important patterns in bird distribution and numbers that may be changing over time — at a continental scale or in your own backyard.

New and returning participants are urged to sign up now on the Project FeederWatch website.

According to leader Emma Greig, the project has a fresh look for its 27th season, including new web tools intended to make participation and exploration easier and more fun. “We have a new interactive tool called ‘Common Feeder Birds’ that allows people to learn about the food and feeder preferences of nearly 100 species, based on data collected by participants,” she says. “The tool can be used to predict what birds can be attracted to an area so you can offer foods strategically to attract desired species.”

White-breasted Nuthatch by Rob Mancini.

White-breasted Nuthatch by Rob Mancini.

Observations from a record number of participants last season helped scientists follow the changes in woodpecker and nuthatch populations in the Midwest, where trees were infested with invasive emerald ash borer beetles.

Read about the emerald ash borer.

“We need continued FeederWatch data on woodpecker and nuthatch populations throughout North America to better understand the long-term consequences of this beetle invasion,” Greig says.

“We also need renewed FeederWatcher effort to monitor the health of House Finches, which are susceptible to a disease that causes swollen eyes. Our participants will be asked to report whether they looked for the disease and whether they saw sick birds.”

Read how scientists have reconstructed the lineage of the bacterium that causes disease in House Finches.

To learn more about Project FeederWatch and to sign up, visit the Project FeederWatch website or call the Cornell lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473.

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

About the artist: Rob Mancini

Robert Mancini is an award-winning illustrator and artist with a lifelong interest in nature and birds and a passion for shorebirds and waders. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. Mancini has illustrated many natural history titles, including books published by The Nature Company (among these Birding and Natural Gardening) and by National Geographic, Australian Geographic, and Readers’ Digest. You can view his artwork and purchase prints of the illustrations above on Etsy at RobManciniImages.

Find Project FeederWatch in our events calendar.

Read about other fun birding events taking place in early November.