Help scientists count birds this winter

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If you love birds and appreciate their look, sounds, and symbolic stature, you may also have access to a birdfeeder, or are considering setting one up.

If so, you can help Canada’s birds by participating in a survey that began in November that is designed to help scientists at Birds Studies Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

They are interested in quantifying bird populations of North America through the Project FeederWatch Citizen Science program. Armstrong Bird Food and Wild Birds Unlimited sponsor the Canadian branch of the research program.

Says Kerrie Wilcox, project coordinator for Bird Studies Canada: “Birds are an important indicator of environmental health and the results of Project FeederWatch each year inform conservation efforts.”

Last year, Canadian participants reported an average 42 birds per count, down from the long-term average of 49. That result may have been due to what is described as “a bumper crop” of natural food in the forests, which may have drawn birds away from feeders.

Citizen participation in the survey Help scientists count birds this winter “from backyards across the country” will help determine whether this recorded decrease is an anomaly or part of a pattern. While supporting research and conservation, participants in the count could learn more about birds.

No experience is necessary and Bird Studies Canada will provide material to help with bird identification. FeederWatcher participants are asked to make a donation “of any amount” to Bird Studies Canada. To do so, visit birdscanada.org/feederwatch or call 1-888-448-2473 or email pfw@birdscanada.org.

The season runs until April 5. Canadian participants will receive a poster of common feeder birds, a calendar, last season’s survey results, and access to online data tools. With a $35 donation, you will receive a subscription to Bird Studies Canada’s magazine, Birdwatch Canada.

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