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Birds Galore – Christmas Bird Count, Project Feederwatch, and more!

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Suet, suet, fat and seeds
Pad his keel, that’s what he needs
Dinky Downy hang on tight
Just keep eating into the night!

Project Feederwatch 2011 is in full swing, and here at Shaver’s Creek, it’s not uncommon for a staff member to set up their work for the day in front of our lower classroom window, where the birds visiting our feeders are in plain sight.  Whether it’s black-oil sunflower seeds, thistle, or suet, birds do love feeders, and we love watching them.  And you can too!

Project Feederwatch is a citizen-science initiative.  It empowers anyone to collect data on the number of species that visit a bird feeder, and submit it to an online database operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Researchers can then use that data to examine things like how acid rain affects bird populations, how clutch-size is affected by latitude, and more. 

Citizen-science is not a new concept – it dates back to the Christmas Bird Count, starting in the year 1900.  It began as an alternative to a holiday hunting competition, and has grown to a hugely popular level today.  In fact, it’s underway right now!  Teams of people tackle “circles” of 15-mile diameter land, and report all of their sightings to a compiler.  Whether it’s owling at night or mid-day sightings, it’s an intense 24-hour period for birders.  Different circles have been designated different days over the coming weeks, so check out this pre-registration list to get in touch with a compiler near you.  And here’s ten tips for a happy and successful count.

The internet has certainly expanded the ability of nearly anybody to report data quickly and easily.  There’s a wide range of projects out there – whether you like birds, squirrels, galaxies, or snowfall, there’s something for everyone.  Or, check out the OpenScientist blog for an updated stream of projects as they happen.  There’s also lots of projects to try over at SciStarter, where you can even view categories like “Things to do in the car” – Project Roadkill, anyone?

Whether you prefer to collect data on a trusty pen and pad or a mobile-internet-toutin’ tablet, there are plenty of reasons to get outside this winter!  (Or, at least, glued to a window!)

One thought on “Birds Galore – Christmas Bird Count, Project Feederwatch, and more!

  1.   The meat manager at Giant on North Atherton will order the regular kidney fat suet for you.  (Went up to $2.99/lb at Wegman’s; was 1.29 at Giant).  Mary Jane StoutState College, PA 

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