FeederWatch 2016 Continues!

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PFW Blog ImageWe here at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center are dedicated to more than just the rehabilitation and care for sick and injured birds. We also hope to educate the public of the importance and understanding of the wild birds with which we coexist. One way in which this is accomplished is through the contribution to and promotion of Project FeederWatch.

Project FeederWatch is an annual winter bird count running for 21 weeks starting the second Saturday of November. The project relies on data collected by you, the public, of the different species visiting your backyard bird feeders. This information can be used by scientists to track the large-scale movements of winter bird populations and trends in bird distribution and abundance. To give an idea of the huge scale of this project let’s look at some of the stats from the 2014/15 season. Over 20,000 participants created almost 132,000 checklists which combined tallied 6,820,166 birds!

Participating in this project is very simple. First, if you don’t already have one, install a bird feeder in your backyard, preferably at a spot easy to monitor. Next select two consecutive days on which you can monitor the feeder. At the FKWBC we monitor our feeders every Monday and Tuesday but find something that works with your schedule. Data should only be collected on these days, leaving at least 5 off days between monitoring, but we encourage you to watch the feeders everyday if not for the entertainment value alone. You only have to record the maximum number of individuals for each species seen over the two days. Do not add your counts together, only one tally should be recorded for the two days. This is very important for Project FeederWatch in how they tally the number of birds and analyze the statistics. Participate as much as you are able to over these 21 weeks, and remember that every little bit of data helps. Just because you don’t see any rare birds, or it seems like you are counting the same birds over and over, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful information.

More information about Project FeederWatch and how to submit data can be found at http://feederwatch.org/

To join Project FeederWatch, click here. There is an $18.00 fee to join the project (or only $15.00 if you’re a member of the Cornell Lab), but it’s well worth it for the experience!

If you ever find yourself at our Wild Bird Sanctuary please consider participating in our own local bird count. You can become a citizen scientist by signing up for a FREE account at eBird (http://ebird.org/content/ebird/) or downloading the eBird app to your smartphone. After doing this, whenever you see a wild bird at the sanctuary (please don’t include the permanent residents), you simply submit the observation and your data is tallied with everyone else’s. This gives us a detailed list of when certain species visit our sanctuary, which then helps the Cornell Lab of Ornithology track bird populations and migration patterns. Data can be submitted year round so please don’t hesitate in learning about this awesome project.

More information about the eBird project can be found on our website at http://www.keepthemflying.org/trailtracker/

Please remember, if you do have backyard bird feeders, make sure to clean and disinfect feeders each time you change the feed to reduce the spread of disease and provide a safe spot for birds to feed.

Jonny Shepherd, FKWBC Intern, 2016

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