Home > Enrichment > Report bird activity in your back yard with Project FeederWatch

Report bird activity in your back yard with Project FeederWatch

If you’ve been following GiftedAtlanta.com for a while, then you know I’m a big fan of citizen science projects as a way for gifted kids to participate in the scientific process. Project FeederWatch is one such effort, relying on amateur birdwatchers throughout North America to report the birds who visit a feeder or other location. The data these citizen scientists collect help ornithologists understand the location and size of bird populations.

A project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, FeederWatch is more involved than other bird counts I’ve written about. Participants should be prepared to tally the birds they observe on two consecutive days a week, during most weeks, ideally from now through early April. For that reason, I’d recommend this for kids who show some interest in birds already. (In contrast, the Great Backyard Bird Count requests that you count for as little as 15 minutes on one day during a specified four-day period. If that sounds more your speed, mark your calendar for next year’s event, scheduled for February 12-15, 2021.)

The counting process is detailed in FeederWatch’s online instructions. Briefly, you’ll select two consecutive days a week that you’ll watch for birds, always in the same location (e.g., your yard). You’ll use a mobile app or paper tally sheet to record the number and species of birds you see. The Cornell Lab has resources to help with species identification, if you need them. You aren’t required to submit a report every single week — in fact, Cornell Lab says if you do only a single, two-day observation, it’s still helpful — but the more weeks you provide a tally, the more useful your data will be.

FeederWatch may be too complex for most elementary school kids to do alone, but with all of us spending more time at home, I think this could be a great activity for parents and kids to do together. Teens should be able to handle the tallying on their own, after some initial training from a parent.

The cost to join FeederWatch is $18. For this fee, you’ll get a poster of common bird species, digital access to Cornell Lab’s quarterly magazine, and a copy of the annual summary report of the FeederWatch results.

Categories: Enrichment
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