Exploring natural history one itsy bitsy spider at a time...

Exploring natural history one itsy bitsy spider at a time...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Project FeederWatch

Black-capped chicadee

Project FeederWatch is a citizen science program sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that is awesomely funalicious and educational!!!
As citizen scientists, volunteers will observe winter bird life and collect valuable data. Participants across the nation submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-08 FeederWatch season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements, and shifting ranges- a treasure trove of information that scientists use to monitor the health of winter birds and the environment. Scientists learn something new from the data each year, whether it's about the movements of common backyard birds or unusual sightings of rarely-seen species.
The project also gives volunteers an exciting and easy way to enjoy nature with children and learn to identify birds. Studies have shown that getting closer to nature reduces stress and promotes a feeling of well-being in children and adults. "Nature is not merely an amenity; it is critical to healthy human development and functioning," says Nancy Wells, Cornell University assistant professor of design and environmental analysis. Her studies find that a view of nature through a window or access to the environment in any way improves a child's cognitive functioning and reduces the negative effects of stress on the child's psychological well-being. Wells also notes that when children spent time with nature early in life it carries over to their adult attitudes and behavior toward the environment.
“Volunteering for Project FeederWatch opened my eyes to the fascinating wildlife that is around in wintertime. I never thought I’d enjoy bird watching before I participated, and now I get really excited to go on a hike looking for birds with my friends,” said Kelsey Frey, a seasonal educator at Pickering Creek.

All you have to do is hang up a bird feeder and observe it whenever you feel like it, then submit your observations online! www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw The website is also great for learning to identify birds, learning which bird feeders are the best, finding out which birds are common in your area, finding clues on how to tell tricky birds apart, and a whole bunch more.