Project FeederWatch

Project FeederWatchMark November 14th on your calendars and think about signing up for Project FeederWatch. If you’ve got a yard and a bird feeder you can collect valuable data about birds in your area and have fun getting to know your regulars.

This will be my first winter counting birds that visit our feeder – I’ve done Coastal Waterbird Surveys in the past but with two young children found it difficult to get out to the site and complete the survey. This will be much easier and I can enjoy a nice cup of organic, fair trade, bird friendly coffee while doing it!

Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. There is a nominal fee to participate but depending on what country you’re in you’ll either get Cornell’s BirdScope newsletter (US) or BirdWatch Canada magazine (Canada) as well as a research kit that will get you started.

Bushtits on the Feeder
Bushtits on the Feeder

I’m hoping that our feeders will be productive. Yesterday we had a flock of Bushtits, a pair of Mourning Doves (perched on our rooftop), several Song Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhee, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and a female Downy Woodpecker (compare the photograph with the male Downy Woodpecker on our elderberry last week).

Downy Woodpecker (female) - note the lack of red on the back of the head.
Downy Woodpecker (female) - note the lack of red on the back of the head.

I admit that these images aren’t perfect – the light was poor and I had to increase the ISO to 800 so they’re a little grainy. Plus I’m realizing how limiting my existing lens set up is for bird photography. I was able to get fairly close to the Downy but had to crop the Bushtit images quite a bit. Might be time to start thinking of an appropriate Christmas Bird Count present!

Bushtits in the bush - more evidence that a good telephoto lens is needed.
Bushtits in the bush (yes, there are two) - more evidence that a good telephoto lens is needed.


  1. Great shot of the female Downy Dave! Pretty good shots of the Bushtits too, considering how much they move around and the fact that you are using a 105mm lens? You are in for a treat when you get your telephoto lens.

    I’m glad I found your blog via IATB even though I didn’t get a post in soon enough for this edition. Also, thanks for posting about Project FeederWatch. It’s great fun. This will be my second year participating. I just posted a link to it as well as some other winter birding activities coming up.

  2. Thanks for your comment Larry – I’m going to have to add your blog to my list of birding blogs, great photographs, good reading and nice links.

    I’m definitely looking forward to getting a good telephoto lens but until then will have to practice some Zen patience and move really slowly in order to get close enough for a decent image. We’ve got a window near our feeder so I’m thinking that taking the screen off and photographing through an open window might be the way to go for now. Project Feederwatch seems like a good way to spend those rainy days when getting out and birding just isn’t enjoyable!

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