Researchers need help studying bird populations

  • By Sharon Wootton, Columnist
  • Friday, October 26, 2012 7:27pm
  • Life

Here’s your chance to be a citizen-scientist.

The 26th season of Project FeederWatch begins Nov. 10; more birdwatchers are needed to make it a success.

By watching birds at their feeders from November through April and submitting their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, volunteers make it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent.

This is particularly important with potential climate changes, warmer weather in particular. And it’s fun.

“Warmer temperatures and lack of snow cover means birds can find more natural food so they may visit feeders less,” said FeederWatch leader David Bonter, in a press release about the program.

“But even if participants are not seeing many birds, that’s still valuable information we need to detect population changes on a broad scale.

“The one number we definitely want to see increase is the number of people taking part in FeederWatch. It’s 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 we enjoy so much.”

Cornell Lab’s website is the place to go for more information. There you will see information on signing up, how to enter your findings, bird photographs, an instructional video and blogs.

For $15, participants receive the FeederWatcher handbook with tips on successfully attracting birds to your feeder, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, a calendar, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings, and the Cornell Lab’s newsletter, Living Bird News.

To volunteer, go to www.feederwatch.org, or call the Cornell Lab at 866-989-2473.

Plan ahead: The U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites during the Veterans Day holiday weekend, Nov. 10 to 12.

It is the fourth fee waiver this year.

About 6,000 of the agency’s 17,000 developed recreation sites require fees.

Long-term planning: A meeting on Nov. 15 is the first public-involved step toward a long-term plan for 134-acre Camano Island State Park.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will address several issues, including visitor experiences, natural resources, building use, recreation areas and trails.

The public meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cama Beach Center at Cama Beach State Park, 1880 SW Camano Drive, Camano Island.

Winter planning: Hurricane Ridge Road in the Olympic National Park returns to the Friday-to-Sunday winter schedule beginning in late November.

A two-year trial to determine the economic impacts of a daily winter road schedule to Hurricane Ridge did not sufficiently increase the number of hours to justify its future operation.

Best of show: Whistler Blackcomb has been named the best overall ski resort in North America by readers of Ski Magazine.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards put Four Seasons Resort Whistler in the Top 100 Hotels and Resorts in the World.

Opening day for Whistler Blackcomb is scheduled for Nov. 22. The ski area has 8,100 acres, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, world-class terrain parks and half pipes, and more than 200 marked trails, topped off by a 10-year average annual snowfall of 39 feet.

Visit www.whistler.com for more information.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.

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