Monday, March 4, 2013

Birds singing-spring could be in the air

   The sounds of birds singing is for me, the first sign that spring is near. Even with cold, nighttime temperatures below freezing and snow still on the ground, the birds can be heard during the day.
   I don't know how active woodpeckers are during the winter. They come to my suet feeder to get a bite but I don't hear they rat-tat-tat like I do now. Maybe another sign of spring?
   These cold days with lots of sunshine seems to have an effect on birds. They move around more, chatter and make calls to any other bird in the area.
   Be sure and get those feeders full. This is a good time of year to see what shows up. While not the best bird habitat, our backyard has been crowded with birds flying in and out, from bush to bush.
   Incidentally, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada reports finches that normally spend much of their time in northern Canada have been seen farther south.
   What kind and how many may turn up in your yard are some of the questions Project Feeder Watch hopes to answer.

   The 26th season of FeederWatch is underway and lasts through early April. By watching feeders and submitting their observations, FeederWatchers make it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent.
   New or returning participants can sign up anytime at in the U.S. and at in Canada.
   “FeederWatch is easy to do, and the information is incredibly valuable in helping us better understand what’s going on in the environment and in the lives of the birds,” says project leader David Bonter.  
   So, who’s coming to dinner at feeders this winter? Common Redpolls, for one.
   This perky finch with the red cap and rosy vest typically drops into the U.S. in years when food is scarce up north—but usually only on one side of the continent, east or west.
   This year, however, redpolls are being reported across the continent and pushing as far south as North Carolina. There have been more redpolls reported in Colorado so far this year than in any year since Project FeederWatch began in 1989.
    In addition to redpolls, from the Great Lakes to the southern U.S.,  people are seeing Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches.
   Siskins have even been turning up in South Florida. FeederWatchers in the Northeast are hosting more Evening Grosbeaks than in recent years. And keep an eye out for crossbills. Though they are rare visitors, White-winged Crossbills and Red Crossbills are seen more often at feeders between February and April when natural food supplies are depleted.
    Learn more about joining Project FeederWatch in the U.S. and to sign up, visit or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members), participants receive the FeederWatcher Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to your feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar.
    Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings, as well as the Cornell Lab's quarterly newsletter, Living Bird News. FeederWatch in Canada is $35 and includes Bird Studies Canada membership. Learn more and sign up at

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