THROUGH THE WOODS: Cornell 35th Project FeederWatch tracks backyard birds

A TRIP TO THE ALAN DEVOE BIRD CLUB’S Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary in Old Chatham was a good reminder of the upcoming start of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch. The feeders are in the main parking lot just past the Powell House Quaker center off county Rt. 13 and up Hunt Club Rd. There are signs to show the way, and the sanctuary is located on the right. Past the main entrance is parking for the Reilly Pond. This is easily accessible via a short walk and flat pedestrian bridge.

Dark-eyed Junco. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

ADBC will start feeding the birds for the winter at the main parking area by Dec. 1. One problem, fortunately not at this location until recent years, has been black bears damaging bird feeders. This can be costly, in the hundreds of dollars plus a lot of effort to fix or replace them. Fortunately, the black bears of this area go into hibernation for the winter in cold weather, and this is when Project FeederWatch begins this year, on the weekend of Nov. 13, 2021 and continues until April 2022. The approach of colder weather was confirmed by the arrival of small flocks of slate colored dark-eyed juncos. I admire these little birds in their tuxedo-like feathers, but their first sightings always make me shiver. The FeederWatch Program means a 5-month commitment, but if you will be unable to do it for the whole winter this is okay. Any data that can be collected is very important. The Cornell Lab says in a press release, “One backyard at a time, participants in Project FeederWatch are doing their part to unravel nature’s mysteries—simply by sharing information about the birds that visit their feeders. Your photos are welcome too. New participants can join at any time.

People of all ages and skill levels can be FeederWatchers and do their part to help researchers better understand trends in bird populations. Participants count the numbers and different species of birds at a specific time, once a week at their feeders, and enter the information on the FeederWatch website at www.FeederWatch.org. By collecting information from all these feeders in all these back yards, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology can track patterns in bird populations and movement from year to year, across North America.

“By engaging the public, we are able to pick up fluctuations that could be the result of climate change, habitat destruction, disease or other environmental factors,” said the project leader. “These are large-scale changes that we would not be able to see without the massive amount of data we receive from our participants. Keeping an eye out in your own backyard can make a difference.”

Something that would be a wonderful addition to our sanctuary data would be a person willing to do this program at the sanctuary feeders. It would be necessary to watch and record the birds there each week if possible. Again, any counts are helpful. If you are interested, please contact us through our website:,alandevoebirdclub.org

The emails to this site come to me and to our club chairperson. Even if you are not able to do the program this year, please visit the Cornell website to learn more about our birds.

Visit www.FeederWatch.org at the Cornell Lab. We hope you will join this important project for our birds.

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