Please refer to our Handbook & Instructions, mailed to all new participants, before submitting any data. Detailed instructions can also be found here.
Sign up – If you have not yet signed up, join today! During the season, it takes a few weeks from when you sign up for your kit to arrive with your ID number and for your ID number to be activated in Your Data.
Select your count site – Choose a portion of your yard that is easy to monitor, typically an area with feeders that is visible from one vantage point.
Choose your count days – Select two consecutive days as often as once a week (less often is fine). Leave at least five days when you do not count between each of your two-day counts.
How to count – Watch your feeders as much or a little as you want over your selected count days. Record the maximum number of each species visible at any one time during your two-day count. Keep one tally across both days. Do not add your counts together!
What to count – Please count
all of the individuals of each species in view at any one time
birds attracted to food or water you provided
birds attracted to fruits or ornamental plantings
hawks and other predatory birds that are attracted by the birds at your feeders
But do not count
birds that simply fly over the count site, such as Canada Geese or Sandhill Cranes.
birds seen on non-count days
Report your counts – Submit counts through the Your Data section of our website.
All counts are important
FeederWatch participants often stop counting their birds because they believe that their counts are not important. Typically they are seeing the same birds every week, or they are seeing very few or no birds. While some FeederWatchers see amazing birds, a wide variety of species, or large numbers of birds, most FeederWatchers see low numbers of what might be characterized as “predictable” birds. These counts are the heart of FeederWatch. Focusing on the extreme cases would provide a biased view of bird populations, and ignoring the common birds could be a major mistake. While we are all thrilled by unusual sightings and high counts, it’s the everyday observations of common birds that are so important for monitoring bird populations. Learn more about why every count matters.
The 2016-2017 FeederWatch season runs from Saturday, November 12 to Friday, April 7. Online data entry will open for new participants on November 1. The last day to start a two-day count is Thursday, April 6.
The project always starts on the second Saturday of November and runs for 21 weeks.
Bird Watching Days Calendar, to help you keep track of your FeederWatch count days
No kit option
Choose this option when you renew if you would rather not receive a kit or a print copy of Winter Bird Highlights (this option is only available to renewing participants). Please note that you will receive no project updates or reminders unless you subscribe to our electronic newsletter. Be sure to keep track of your ID number, which can be found near your mailing address on any mailing from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Why is there a fee to participate in Project FeederWatch?
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada are non-profit organizations supported primarily by participant and membership fees. Project FeederWatch would not be possible without the support of our participants—scientifically and financially. FeederWatch’s participant fees pay for website and database maintenance, data analysis, participant support, printing and shipping project materials, and dissemination of information learned from FeederWatch data. The fees also help cover the cost of publishing a year-end report, Winter Bird Highlights. While FeederWatch staff constantly seek other sources of funding, the reality is that without participant fees, the project would have to shut down.