During the winter, staying inside and watching the birds gather around your feeder is one sure way to cultivate that cozy feeling. Plus it’s one of those easy, feel-good things you can do for wildlife.

What if you could take the things you see and use them to help everyone better understand birds? Sign up for Project FeederWatch, where you write down what you see in your own backyard and send it to scientists. For 30 years, this citizen scientist project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has helped bird researchers understand where songbirds live in the winter and how many there are. Over time, it helps scientists understand important trends.

Project FeederWatch begins in November and ends in April. You’re already watching the birds anyway. Why not get involved?

Am I qualified?

More than you think! FeederWatch welcomes people at all levels of the birding spectrum; you can be an expert binoculars-wielding traveler, or you could be someone who has noticed birds do exist and wants to learn more. When you sign up and send in your $18, you’ll get a full-color bird poster. 

Is it a big-time commitment?

There are some rules, but it’s not a huge time commitment. You do have to log your observations on two consecutive days. Then it’s a five-day wait before you can log more. But beyond that, it’s pretty flexible. Whether your entries are faithful, sporadic or seldom, any data is welcome.

I’m seeing the same birds every week. What do I do?

Even if you’re seeing the same species, week after week, it all adds up to more information for the scientists. It’s valuable. If you feel you are at a point that you aren't providing any beneficial information, feel free to add to your feeding station or try it in a different location in your yard to see if it draws in new visitors.

Give a window feeder a try so you can see your visitors up close and personal - or try a perchless feeder filled with a high-energy blend like Lyric Fruit & Nut High Energy Wild Bird Mix. You just might attract woodpeckers, nuthatches and other birds that cling while they eat. 

Happy counting!