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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project FeederWatch starts soon!

Project FeederWatch, a joint program of Bird Studies Canada (BSC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the Lab), begins on Saturday November 12 and finishes Friday April 7. If you’d like to contribute important information about winter bird populations and yet do so from the comfort of your (warm, snow-free) living room, this is the program for you! The information gathered from FeederWatch participants all across North America provides the Lab and BSC scientists with invaluable information about winter bird populations and longterm trends in bird abundance and distribution.   

As a FeederWatch participant you provide food, water, and shelter for birds then observe the birds at your feeder(s) two consecutive days each week or every two weeks, or whatever time frame suits you. During each observation period you record the data then submit it by email to the Lab at the end of each session. Or, if you prefer to send your data by snail mail, you do so at the end of the season.

For more information go to  Be sure to watch the instructional video, “Feederwatch Instructions” and read all the pages about the project. If you decide to sign up (I hope you do!) there's a $35 fee, but that gets you a membership in Bird Studies Canada (which has its own benefits), as well as a research kit, a poster, support from Lab staff, a subscription to the Lab’s quarterly newsletter, BirdScope, and Winter Bird Highlights, a report on the findings of the project’s findings. If you're already a member of BSC, there's no fee to join Project Feederwatch - just let them know you want to participate and they'll send you all the materials.

Let's make sure Gabriola is well represented!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Squirrels: do they drive you nuts?

Let me introduce you to Q, our resident squirrel. Like all red squirrels, she specializes in being a chatterbox, an acrobat, and a flying trapeze artist.
She also enjoys relaxing on the back deck.

And, of course, raiding the bird feeders.

This homemade number was designed to be raccoon-resistant, meaning we wouldn't care if a raccoon ripped it apart. Q was delighted. So accessible! 

The finch feeder was a snap once she got it off the hanger.
That took about 30 seconds.

Here Q is filling her cheeks with black-oil sunflower seeds - again.

Chattering at me - from a bird house, of course.

So I bought this SQUIRREL-PROOF feeder at The Commons Swap 'n Shop last weekend. You can see how very effective it was. (Luckily, the price was right.) However, the tale has a happy ending. Being of superior intelliegence to a rodent (did you know squirrels are members of the rodent family?) my husband stretched out the coil that allowed the cage around the feeder to slide up and down just enough to actually cover the openings when Q climbed aboard. Success! I was very impressed. With Q too. She gave up quickly - since there are a dozen other feeders for her to choose from. I mean, really, why knock yourself out?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Big Sit - a lazy birder's dream come true

For a lazy but obsessed birder (like me) it's the perfect event.  On Sunday October 9, thousands of people from all over the world will sit - and watch birds. The event is called The Big Sit. Founded by the New Haven Bird Club, hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest (BWD), and sponsored by Swarovski Optik, The Big Sit is free, non-competitive, and open to every single person on the planet. That means YOU!!

To participate: Decide if you're going to sit alone or with friends. (Latter option highly recommended!) Then, sometime before October 9 choose your spot. It should be comfortable enough to hang out there all day long (or as long as you can manage) and yet bird-friendly. (The parking lot of FolkLife Village probably isn't "the spot to be". By the sea or in the 707 might be good. Or in your own back yard, even, if lots of birds hang out there.) Once the spot is chosen, draw a 17-foot diameter circle around the 'anchor spot'. (The line can be real or imaginary). Then, count every species of bird you see or hear from the circle for as long as you last. The count starts at one minute past midnight and ends at 11:59 pm so there's plenty of time! But you can choose to "sit" for as little as an hour if you like - just for the fun of it.

You can participate with or without registering, but if you register, be sure to read the official rules by clicking the link below. You might win prizes! But more importantly, your data will be be collected and used for a good purpose.

Pray for sunny skies! Organize food and drink and friends! Have fun!