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The Project FeederWatch Blog Has Moved!

October 16, 2013

Hello FeederWatch Blog followers!

The Project FeederWatch team recently unveiled a completely redesigned FeederWatch website!  We’re really happy with it and we hope you will be, too.  However, this also means that the FeederWatch Blog has moved to the new site as well.  If you have the blog bookmarked, in your RSS feed, or follow it in some other way, please update things so that you continue to follow our blog.  The new blog lives here: http://feederwatch.org/blog/

All future blog posts will be on the new blog.  Hope to see you there!

Help monitor Eurasian Collared-Dove nests with NestWatch

June 13, 2013

Over the past 30 years, the non-native Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) has spread across North America.  Since it was first discovered nesting near Miami, Florida in 1982, it has rapidly spread northwestward and can now be found as far away as Alaska.  Project FeederWatch has been a crucial source of information on the spread of this species, and now our sister project NestWatch needs your help so that we can learn more about the nesting biology of Eurasian Collared-Doves in North America.  NestWatch is a citizen science project in which volunteers find and monitor bird nests so that scientists can study status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive.  By reporting information on nesting Eurasian Collared-Doves, you can help us better understand why this species has been such a successful colonizer.

Eurasian Collared-Dove by FeederWatcher Patricia Jones-Mestas of Parker, CO.

Eurasian Collared-Dove by FeederWatcher Patricia Jones-Mestas of Parker, CO.

Eurasian Collared-Doves live in urban and suburban areas throughout much of the United States and southern Canada except for the northeast.  They also can be found in rural areas, such as farms, where grain is readily available.  These doves avoid areas that have heavy forest cover or extremely cold temperatures.  They are a bit larger than Mourning Doves but slimmer than Rock Pigeons, and have a characteristic narrow black crescent around the nape of their necks.  Eurasian Collared-Doves build a simple platform nest, consisting of twigs, grasses, roots, and sometimes feathers, wool, string, and other materials.  Pairs of doves often use the same nest for multiple broods during the year.  In warmer regions, Eurasian Collared-Doves can nest year-round.  Nests are usually located in trees or on buildings at a height of at least 8-10 feet above the ground.  They lay 1-2 white eggs per nesting attempt, which hatch after 14-19 days of incubation.  Young doves are ready to leave the nest approximately 17 days after hatching.

If you know the location of a Eurasian Collared-Dove nest, please report it to NestWatch.org.  You can log in to NestWatch using your FeederWatch username and password.  To get started, read the NestWatch Code of Conduct and Nest Monitoring Protocol, and then take a short online quiz to become a certified NestWatcher.  Next, watch a few short tutorial videos to learn how to register nest sites and enter data.  Nest monitoring tip:  If you would like to monitor a nest that is above head height, simply attach a small mirror onto the end of a pole or stick.  You can then carefully raise the mirror above the nest to see what’s going on inside!

Don’t know where any Eurasian Collared-Dove nests are?  Not a problem!  NestWatch is seeking observations of all species of nesting birds, so you can also help by monitoring American Robins, Northern Cardinals, Tree Swallows, or whatever other species may be nesting near your home.

If you are in Canada and would like to monitor nests, visit the Project NestWatch website.

Help monitor aerial insectivores and other nesting birds

April 15, 2013

Imagine the majestic grace of a Tree Swallow in flight or the aerial acrobatics of a Barn Swallow over a grassy meadow on a warm summer evening. Now imagine a world without these lovely birds. Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows, along with Violet-green Swallows, Purple Martins, and Eastern Phoebes, belong to a group of birds known as aerial insectivores. Their agile flight style enables them to effectively hunt their primary prey: flying insects. Over the past 30 years, populations of many aerial insectivores have declined, and the cause remains unknown. Scientists have theorized that it may be linked, in part, to declines of some insects on which these birds depend. You can help scientists study and understand the plight of aerial insectivores by monitoring their nests.

Violet-green Swallow by Rhys Marsh

Violet-green Swallow by Rhys Marsh

Please consider joining NestWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or Project NestWatch at Bird Studies Canada. Anyone with a bird nesting in their yard or neighborhood can help monitor nesting success. Project participants monitor one or more nests or nest boxes every 3 to 4 days to observe when eggs are laid, when they hatch, and when chicks take their first flights. Observations are reported online. Participation is free, although a small donation is suggested to help support the program.

Participate in the U.S.
Signing up is easy via the NestWatch website. After signing up, you will first do a bit of online training to understand how best to observe nesting birds without disturbing them. For more information on how to find nests of aerial insectivores, as well as the nests of other birds, visit the NestWatch Focal Species webpage.

Participate in Canada
To register visit the Project NestWatch website. To learn more about Bird Studies Canada and our citizen science programs, please visit the Bird Studies Canada website.

BirdSpotter Photo Contest: Week 16 Winner!

March 6, 2013

Congratulations to Toni Pulvermacher of Dane, WI , this week’s winner of the BirdSpotter Photo Contest sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill! The theme this week was “birds at the feeder.” It’s fantastic to see Toni’s son’s deep interest in the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds — now that’s FeederWatching!

Toni Pulvermacher captured  this fun photo of her son, as his attention was captured by the hummingbirds.

Toni Pulvermacher captured this fun photo of her son, as his attention was captured by the hummingbirds.

Are you wondering why Toni’s son has a helmet on? Toni explians:

My parents live in Wyalusing, WI, which is on the Mississippi River.  They have a lot of birds.  The grandkids have always loved to watch and learn about the birds, especially hummingbirds.  My son, Nick, knew that hummingbirds are attracted to red.  He came up with the idea to attach a feeder to the red helmet so he could watch the hummingbirds up close.  His idea was a huge success!  The birds came right up to him, and eventually he put his fingers around the base of the feeder and they would perch right on him to drink.  From there, he thought of picking cherries off the tree.  The kids would hold the cherries in their mouth and the hummingbirds would buzz right in front of their face.  It was a fun experience for all of us!

Smart kid!

The BirdSpotter photo contest will be taking a break for a few weeks while the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Facebookl page hosts March Migration Madness! The next BirdSpotter contest will start on Wednesday, April 3rd and the theme will be “natural foods.” There will be four more weeks of themed contests followed by a runoff for the grand prize of a trip to Oregon to cook with Bob!

BirdSpotter Photo Contest: Week 15 Winner!

February 26, 2013

Congratulations to Robert Martinez of Denver, CO, week 15’s winner of the BirdSpotter Photo Contest sponsored by  Bob’s Red Mill! The theme this week was “Birds in Flight” — Robert captured the aerial beauty of these American Avocets quite nicely!

Robert Martinez captured this winning shot of three American Avocets in flight

Robert Martinez captured this winning shot of three American Avocets in flight

Here’s a word from Robert about how he captured the shot:

I was walking around the Boulder Reservoir one early spring afternoon, looking for owls roosting and noticed that a flock of American Avocets were getting ready to take off after being spooked by a coyote roaming the shoreline, quickly moved to a spot where the Avocets would fly by me and found three that were flying close behind each other and fired off three shots before they saw me and changed directions.  This photo was the best of the three.

The sixteenth week of our BirdSpotter Photo Contest will be open for submissions and voting this Wednesday, February 27th! This week’s theme is “birds at the feeder,” so keep a lens pointed at your feeders! Only one photo can be submitted per person but you can vote for as many photos as you like.  This week’s contest starts Wednesday, February 27th and runs through Sunday, March 3rd.

Project FeederWatch in Action in Baton Rouge, LA!

February 21, 2013

A fourth grade science class at the Westdale Heights Academic Magnet in Baton Rouge, LA, has been participating in Project FeederWatch this season and loving it! Pamela Fry’s class, with the help of volunteer Dennis Demcheck, have been learning about birds through Project FeederWatch.

“Several science teachers… have come to me and remarked that the students’  intense interest in birds (feeders outside classroom windows) has sparked a wider interest in science,” says Dennis.  The students started observing and counting feeder birds in November 2012 and have been drawing the birds that they see. “The students are still drawing birds and giving the drawings to me,” he says. “They can’t stop and neither can I.  This is a presentation that will never be finished–only updated.”  Dennis put together this fantastic slide show to share the students’ enthusiasm for birds and Project FeederWatch…check it out!

BirdSpotter Photo Contest: Weeks 13 and 14 Winners!

February 19, 2013

Gary Rasmussen of Anchorage, AK was the winner of the 13th week of our BirdSpotter Photo Contest sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill! The theme for the thirteenth week was “the unexpected” — this shot of a Costa’s Hummingbird taken in Patagonia, AZ in an aerial dance with a honeybee fits the bill!

Gary Rasmussen caught this chance moment between a Costa's Hummingbird and a honey bee.

Gary Rasmussen caught this chance moment between a Costa’s Hummingbird and a honey bee.

Gary explains:

I was on vacation photographing birds in Southeast Arizona when I shot this picture of the Costa’s Hummingbird and Honey Bee.  Southeast Arizona has more species of Hummingbirds than anywhere else in the United States. The Costa’s is one of ten Hummingbirds species I have been able to photograph in Arizona. There are numerous feeding stations, throughout the area, open to the public for a modest donation, and B&Bs catering to bird watchers.  Like many Alaskans, we like to escape the cold for a couple of weeks in the winter, and Arizona is a popular destination.

The fourteenth week of the contest was championed by Laurie Salzler of Ann Arbor, MI!  The theme for the 14th week was “Black and White Birds OR Black and White Photos” — this shot of a Downy Woodpecker ticks off both requirements nicely!

Black and white - a winning Downy Woodpecker by Laurie Salzler

Black and white – a winning Downy Woodpecker by Laurie Salzler

Laurie’s photo may have been a black and white photo of a black and white bird, but she was tickled pink by the win:

I must say I’m tickled to death at winning this week’s contest. I have over a dozen feeders scattered in my front and back yards, which gives me countless opportunities to photograph the birds. There are two pair of Downy Woodpeckers that come to the feeders and they’re constantly driving one another away. I was fortunate to have this female sit still long enough for me to snap her photo.

The fifteenth week of our BirdSpotter Photo Contest will be open for submissions and voting this Wednesday, February 20th! This week’s theme is “birds in flight,” so capture those flitting feathers! Only one photo can be submitted per person but you can vote for as many photos as you like.  This week’s contest starts today Wednesday, February 20th and runs through Sunday, February 24th.

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