This weekend was the start of the 2013-14 Feederwatch season – and for anyone not familiar with this Citizen Science program, it is described at the Bird Studies Canada’s website thus:
Project FeederWatch is a joint program of Bird Studies Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It 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 birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.
We have been doing this for fifteen years (this is the 16th) and it is a lot of fun, not to say interesting and useful. This first weekend was split between one bright and cool day and one very, very wet and grey and cold day …. eleven species were seen, which were :
The Carolina Wren was especially welcome. There have been a couple in the garden all summer that have served as a regular dawn alarm clock. We have had them in previous years during the winter but they are not regular feeder birds, preferring to forage in the leaf litter in dark corners for their food … though when it is deep snow they have little option but to take what they can get. This is by far the northern limit for the species and only the toughest individuals survive, helped by climate change. In fact we have seen them once or twice each winter from the 2002-3 season through to the 2007-8 season, usually in the coldest months of January and February) and then not at all from 2009 through to 2011. Last year we saw them for about half the weeks of the season and then they have stuck around all summer, as mentioned previously. It will be interesting to see how this winter pans out.
The White-throated Sparrows were good too, rummaging arouond in the grass below the feeders to collect the cast-offs.
We have not seen House Sparrows here at any time of the season for several years – in fact the only local colony we know of is down in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue where they make a living around the backs of restaurants but the new Feederwatch website makes it easy to look back at our earlier counts (a total of 43 species since 1999) and there was one day in ouor first year when we were visited by 24 House Sparrows in a flock. That will probably never happen again.
A few photographs from today.