Lab of Ornithology Updates: 11-18-2011

Volunteers needed to track generations of birds

Thousands of Americans will soon begin tallying birds at their backyard feeders for Project FeederWatch, launching the 25th season for this citizen-science program. The information reported online from across the continent helps scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology track changes in the numbers of birds and the distribution of species. Anyone with an interest in birds and nature is invited to participate.

Because most birds reproduce yearly, FeederWatch data cover nearly 25 generations of birds. Some species, like Northern Cardinals and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, are expanding their ranges to the north. The Evening Grosbeak, once a familiar feeder bird in winter, has disappeared from much of its former range. Meanwhile, an invasive species, the Eurasian Collared-Dove, has spread from Florida to Alaska in less than a decade.

“By watching and keeping track of the birds in your own neighborhood, you really can make a difference,” said project leader David Bonter. “The more people watching, the more we can learn about the birds that brighten the winter landscape.”

Information: or toll-free 866-989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook with tips on how to successfully attract birds, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, a calendar, complete instructions, and Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings.

Urban birds grants available

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Celebrate Urban Birds” citizen science project is accepting applications for mini-grants to fund neighborhood events that promote an appreciation for birds and nature. Grants average $250-$500, and the deadline to apply is Dec. 15.

Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grants could be used to support a bird-activity day at a local museum, afterschool program, library or community center, or fund art and gardening activities at clubs, businesses, schools, senior centers or neighborhoods. Events or projects could feature activities involving birds, community service, art, greening and science. Participants are encouraged to collect simple information about common birds and report their findings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

To learn more, download a flyer, and apply for a mini-grant, visit Organizations working with underserved communities are strongly encouraged to apply. No experience with birds is required.