Nov 22, 2016 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, December 2016

Did You Know That the Hobby We Love Can Help the Birds?

Pileated woodpeckers, cardinals, and other birds visit a bountiful backyard feeding station.
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You can turn your hobby of watching the birds at your feeder into genuine science by participating in Project FeederWatch. If you can identify all the birds that visit your backyard bird buffet, you're qualified to participate in this, a citizen science project of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, which runs every November through April. The data collected from across the United States and Canada every winter paint a picture of the abundance and distribution of bird species, and changes over time. The $18 participation fee funds data analysis, the website, and a year-end report, Winter Bird Highlights, but also pays for a starter kit for first-time participants. Does feeding birds harm them? Does it delay migration? How far has house finch eye disease spread? Are Carolina chickadees expanding their range northward? These are some of the questions Project FeederWatch is helping to answer. You can contribute to the data collection. Visit feederwatch.org for more information or to sign up.



About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson, III, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.

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  • I live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020