More eyes needed to tally state birds
Ithaca, NY-The diversity of habitats and birds in Texas makes bird watchers in the state the envy of nature lovers elsewhere. Many stunning species readily visit bird feeders, and may be attracted to your own backyard. Scientists are asking Texas bird watchers to report what they see at their feeders through Project FeederWatch.
“Being a FeederWatcher is easy and fun,” says project leader David Bonter from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Scientists learn something new from the project each year, whether it’s about the movements of common backyard birds or unusual sightings of rarely seen species.”
For example, Texas has recently seen the spread of two dove species throughout the state: the White-winged Dove and the Eurasian Collared-Dove. As the name implies, the latter species is not native to the United States. Will this new dove have an impact on populations of native doves? “We need to hear from more bird watchers in Texas to get an accurate picture of what’s happening with bird populations from year to year,” says Bonter. “Anyone who sees birds at feeders can help.”
The 2008-09 season of Project FeederWatch is underway and runs through April 3. Participants can sign up at any time. FeederWatchers track the numbers and kinds of birds seen at feeders each week and then send the information to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The information they provide helps generate the world’s largest database on feeder-bird populations.
FeederWatchers across North America submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-08 season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements, and shifting ranges-information scientists use to monitor the health of the birds and of the environment.
Project FeederWatch welcomes participants of all ages and skill levels. To learn more and to sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call (800) 843-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, a bird-identification poster, a calendar, instructions, and the FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights, summarizing the season’s findings.