Project FeederWatch (Eastern US)

Birds Canada

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Project name: Project FeederWatch

Goals : To track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Also to detect and explain changes in the wintering ranges of many species.

Dataset summary : Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each species they see at their feeders from November through early April. FeederWatch helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with Audubon, Bird Studies Canada, and Nature Canada.The data set includes: date of observation, species, highest number seen at one time, effort, weather (low temperature, high temperature, precipitation, snow depth, and snow cover), count site description (size, vegetation, population density of neighborhood, elevation, habitats, numbers and types of feeders, types of food provided, etc.).

Status : Active

Year started : 1987

Years (comments) : ongoing

Season(s) and frequency : November through early April.

Geographic area covered : North America (US and Canada) Approximately 16,000 participants from all states and provinces.

Type(s) of habitat : Backyards, nature centers. Generally rural or suburban

Primary species covered : Landbirds that visit bird feeders

Sampling Design : Depends on citizen scientists (data collected by volunteers). Sampling locations are determined by the volunteers.

Field methods : Counts at feeders, species, number and weather conditions, effort information

Data format : Over 5 million records per year, maintained in Oracle data base at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Raw data available - contact the Lab. Data retrieval tools including simple trend graphs and distribution maps available to the public at:

Data entry methods : Participants can submit data online or by returning scannable data sheets

Sample size : Counts submitted from about 10,000 participants each year, over 5 million birds reported in 2003.

Results :

Trends and time series availability :

Publications :

Funding sources : Fees paid by participants to Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

Applications for the data : long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance; timing and extent of winter irruptions of winter finches and other species; expansions or contractions in the winter ranges of feeder birds; kinds of foods and environmental factors that attract birds; how disease is spread among birds that visit feeders

Users of the information : Research Scientists