Monday, June 5, 2017

Project FeederWatch: Winter 2016-2017 at VINS

by Anna Autilio
Environmental Educator

The beginning of spring marked the last days of this season of Project FeederWatch, a citizen science project run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, aimed at documenting the abundance and distribution of wintering birds in North America. This year, VINS officially participated in this important project, which will be celebrating its 30th season next year.



Each Saturday and Sunday, starting in November, we invited guests at the Nature Center to watch birds with us; many who'd never held binoculars before or tried this strange "bird-watching" thing. We heard and shared many stories of feathered visitors to backyards across New England, and even got some young minds thinking about birds and science, and how anyone can be a scientist if they enjoy wondering about the world. 

This year, about 80 FeederWatchers monitored birds within the state of Vermont. VINS was one of only 8% of these to report a Brown Creeper in March, and one of only 3% of sites to report Cedar Waxwings at all. Though we only saw a pair of Northern Cardinals once, cardinals were consistently reported at 50-60% of other FeederWatch sites in Vermont this winter, and are typically seen at 85% of count sites in the Northeast region. 

Below is a list of the 19 species we documented at our feeders, located in front of the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation. And they are...

Largest Group Size
Species
First Date Observed
35
American Goldfinches
(11/12/16)
21
Mourning Doves
(11/19/16)
18
American Tree Sparrows
(11/12/16)
16
Cedar Waxwings
(2/4/17)
10
Black-capped Chickadees
(11/12/16)
6
American Crows
(12/3/16)
6
Blue Jays
(11/12/16)
6
Dark-eyed Juncos
(11/12/16)
4
Tufted Titmice
(11/12/16)
3
White-breasted Nuthatches
(11/12/16)
3
Downy Woodpeckers
(11/12/16)
2
Northern Cardinals
(11/26/16)
2
Pine Siskins
(11/26/16)
2
Red-breasted Nuthatches
(11/19/16)
1
American Robin
(3/25/17)
1
Brown Creeper
(3/25/17)
1
Cooper's Hawk
(11/19/16)
1
Hairy Woodpecker
(11/12/16)
1
Red-winged Blackbird
(11/12/16)

If you have a couple of birdfeeders in your backyard already, or are thinking about putting some up next fall, you might want to become a FeederWatcher too! Participation costs $18 ($15 for Lab of Ornithology members) and comes with posters, datasheets, and a helpful manual to get you started on your own backyard science project! Sign up now at http://feederwatch.org/.

Our partnership with the Tractor Supply Co. in Lebanon, NH helped make our FeederWatch season possible. Many thanks to Tractor Supply for donating approximately 300 lbs of bird seed to fill our feeders! We are looking forward to contributing to this project for many years to come.


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