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Feeder birds of New York: Project FeederWatch.

If you enjoy feeding and watching birds during the winter months, and would like to contribute to an international bird conservation effort, project FeederWatch may be for you! Project FeederWatch is a continent-wide, citizen-based winter bird monitoring program operated by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Begun some 20 years ago in Ontario, Project FeederWatch enlists the help of citizen scientists like Conservationist readers.

FeederWatchers (as they are called) from across the U.S. and Canada set up bird feeders and count the number and kinds of birds that visit their feeders from November through early April, and send their records to Cornell over the Internet. Biologists use this information to monitor bird populations, migratory movements, and interesting phenomena like winter irruptions and the spread of diseases.

Participants receive a research kit (shown at right) that includes instructions, a calendar, a large poster to help in bird identification, and a quarterly newsletter. A $15 annual fee pays for the materials and supports the program. Anyone with an interest in birds can participate; you needn't be an expert in bird identification. You may join at any time of year. If this sounds like it might be fun for you, consider joining the more than 15,000 people who are already involved in FeederWatch.

Project FeederWatch is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada, the National Audubon Society, and the Canadian Nature Federation.

For more information, visit Project FeederWatch online at www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw or see the December 2002 issue of Conservationist.

Graphic design by Frank Herec

Common Feeder Birds of New York State

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla): Bold and gregarious, will eat from a human hand.

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens): Our smallest woodpecker, similar to hairy woodpecker but with a shorter beak.

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus): Slightly larger than a downy, has a longer beak-to-head ratio.

Northern 'Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis): Common in winter, males are bright scarlet in color.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata): Raucous, large, blue and white bird that announces its presence with loud calls.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis): Sparrow-shaped, slate-gray with white outer tail feathers that flash in flight.

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis): Frequent backyard visitor; often seen climbing down trees head first.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis): Walks head first down trees; has a broad back line across and a white stripe above the eye.

Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea): Small, streaked finch with a bright red cap and black chin. Common in northern NY; uncommon elsewhere except in generally biennial "irruptions."

American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea): Has red-brown cap and a dark spot on its breast.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): Introduced from England in the 1850s, it quickly spread. Males have a black throat and gray and white cheeks.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis): Common, recognized by a white throat patch and a yellow spot between its eyes and bill.

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris): Abundant, gregarious, vocal short-tailed blackbird. Heavily speckled in winter.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor): Common, small and gray with tufted crest on its head.

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater): Smaller blackbird; males have a brown head.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus): Present year-round in southern NY, males have red "epaulets" on the wings; females resemble super-sized sparrows.

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura): Feeds on the ground. Flight feathers make whistling sound.

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus): Slightly smaller than the purple finch, has dark stripes on sides and belly.

Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus): Found across the state, the male is a dull rose-red.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus): Infrequent feeder visitor, has yellow under wings and red splotch on nape.

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis): Muted drab-green color in fall and winter, it turns bright yellow in summer.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia): Widespread songbird, has heavy streaks on chest Feeds on ground. Pumps its tail during flight.

Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus): Found in northern NY, irruptive in winter. Has yellowish body with black and white wings. Resembles an overgrown goldfinch.

Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus): Small, dark, heavily streaked finch with a deeply notched tail. Unpredictable winter visitor, has local "irruptions."

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus): Zebra-backed with white rump and red cap. Not found in higher elevations.

Carolina wren, Corolina chickadee, common grackle and eastern towhee are not regular visitors to New Yolk Bird feeders.

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Author:Nelson, David; Stegemann, Eileen
Publication:New York State Conservationist
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:709
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