Saturday, November 8, 2008

Project Feederwatch

Today is the official start to Project Feederwatch, operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is my first year participating and I'm excited because it will make me much more disciplined about birdwatching. I've never done counts before, so I think it will be helpful in getting into the habit of doing that.

Although today is the official start date, I won't be starting my counting until Tuesday. I've decided to count on Tuesdays and Wednesdays since the odds of me being around are much higher than the weekends. Plus, it will be good motivation to get up early to watch the feeder before work (and start my day earlier on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). With the time change, it's actually daylight when I get up now so it shouldn't be too hard.
This morning I went out back for a practice run. I knew there would be a lot of birds since I had been hearing them outside starting around 7am. The feeders were in rough shape (the smaller one was empty, and the long tube one only had seed at the very bottom and it was difficult to get at).

That didn't bother the birds though—the yard was teeming with groups of dark eye-juncos, titmice, and Carolina wrens. I was most excited about the Carolina wrens since I find that they're usually pretty shy. The video I got of the Carolina wren's song at my parents' house on the Cape shows just how hard they can be to capture- they're constantly flitting around. I also had never observed more than two at a time. As you can imagine, their activity this morning caught me entirely off-guard. I counted about 7 max. at one time. They were hanging out in the maple tree right outside my bedroom window. I usually only see them in low brush. Even stranger, one at a time, a few of the boldest ones visited the tube feeder! Ironically, the Project FeederWatch site features an image of a Carolina Wren at a feeder, so I guess it's not as rare as I thought:

Image source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu


Here is my official count from my time out there this morning:

Blue Jay - 3

Northern Cardinal - 2*

Tufted Titmouse - 4

Dark-eyed Junco - 8

Carolina Wren - 7

White-breasted Nuthatch - 2

House Sparrow - 8

Song Sparrow - 1

American Robin - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 2

I'm also supposed to record temperature and precipitation. I didn't really pay close attention to it this morning, but I do know it's not raining and it's 63 degrees. I'll have to pay closer attention to that on Tuesday.

*According to the data collection rules, males and females must be counted separately even if they are sexually dimorphic (males and females look different). They can only be counted as 2 if they are both seen at the same time. In my case I had a male and female pair on the feeder tree at the same time.

Here are some pictures from this morning.

Tufted Titmouse:


Song Sparrow:


5 comments:

kayla said...

very nice blog, some how i found you researching things on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia, i wish you the best.

James said...

After reading your post, I looked into Project Feederwatch and signed up. Thanks for making me aware of it. Btw, these are the same people who run the Great Backyard Birdcount in February. That's fun too if you haven't done it before.

Gallicissa said...

I am sorry I find bird counting as boring as golf.

BirdingGirl said...

@james- I'm glad I inspired you to get involved. It's nice because it provides data to Cornell, but also forces me to get out there and watch the birds on a consistent basis. I have heard of the Great Backyard Birdcount also. I just looked up the dates and since it's a very short time commitment I think I won't have a problem doing that one also. Thanks for reminding me about it!

@gallicissa- I agree about the boredom factor. I have trouble counting large groups of birds when I'm out birding. Limiting counting to just my feeder and just a short period of time in the morning two days a week isn't too bad though. I don't expect it to carry over into my birding trips though. I choose to put my efforts into snagging some great pictures instead!

Larry said...

itoo hate counting birds.I enjoy the christmas Bird counts because of the tradition and social sapct but I have someone else keep track of the lists or I would fall asleep.-It's a good thing to do though and good for you!