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What is Project FeederWatch?

It is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders in North America. "FeederWatchers" periodically count the highest numbers of each species they see from November through April. It is the longest running of the Cornell Lab Ornithology citizen-science projects. FeederWatch helps scientists track broad-scale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Findings from Project FeederWatch help researchers understand changes in North American feeder bird populations not only during a particular winter but also over many years. FeederWatch was the first study to document cyclical changes in Varied Thrush abundance. It also was the first to clearly document the irruptive patterns and movements of the Common Redpoll. Most recently, FeederWatchers are helping track the spread of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, often referred to as House Finch eye disease because it primarily affects House Finches.

Each fall, there is a "FeederWatch Top-10 List" of the 10 most frequently reported species in North America. Last year's list: 10) Black-capped Chickadee, 9) House Sparrow, 8) European Starling, 7) Northern Cardinal, 6) Blue Jay, 5) American Goldfinch, 4) House Finch, 3) Downy Woodpecker, 2) Mourning Dove, and the number ONE species most frequently reported was the Dark-eyed Junco - seen at 85% of FeederWatch feeders.

Participants receive a Research Kit that includes a full-color feeder bird poster and calendar, and the FeederWatchers's Handbook. They also receive summaries of FeederWatch data and other findings published in the Lab's quarterly newsletter, Birdscope. A $15 fee helps cover the cost of materials and data analysis.

For more information or to sign up call Cornell Lab of Ornithology -800-843-2473 or visit the FeederWatch web site at http://birds.cornell.edu/pfw