One of the things I have enjoyed the past couple of winters is being able to participate in Project Feeder Watch, a citizen science project organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
It's very simple to participate, there are just a few easy steps.
1) Choose your count site -- in my case, it was my own back yard, but I could also count at places like Kleb Woods where they have feeders if I wanted to, I suppose.
2) Choose your count days. You have to select two consecutive days -- obviously, for me, the weekends are the natural count days. The Feeder Watch program runs from November 9th through April 14 and you can count as often as every week if you wish.
3) To count the birds, you need to count the number of birds that are visible at one time. So if you see three birds together, and then another two later on, you would log three, not five birds. My problem was trying to count the number of house sparrows, of which there seemed to be hundreds, but I think I counted them out to 23 along the wall - by far the most prevelent bird in the garden this winter.
4) As the project is called "Project Feeder Watch", you have to make sure you only count birds that are attracted by your feeders, birdbaths, or other habitat you provide. So things like the these geese I photographed flying overhead back in November wouldn't be counted.
Nor would these Mourning doves, as they sit on the telephone wires.
But I *was* able to include this Cooper's Hawk who visited twice over the Thanksgiving weekend.
OK so he was probably more attracted by the birds at the feeders than the actual feeders, but he was there, on the bird bath and he stayed long enough for me to walk up to within eight feet of him snapping photos, so I counted him!
Find learn more about Project Feeder Watch and how to join in, visit http://feederwatch.org/
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.