December 9, 2016
To celebrate Project FeederWatch’s 30-year anniversary, we are featuring a handful of long-term participants. One FeederWatcher from every decade will be selected randomly to win BirdSpotter prizes which include goodies from the Cornell Lab and a $200 gift card from our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited.
Congratulations to Diane Cherbak of Mancos, Colorado! Diane has been involved with FeederWatch for ten years; however, she began bird-watching many years ago when she lived in California. Diane’s sister Sharon initially sparked her interest in birding. When Sharon moved to Washington, birding became a way to bridge the physical distance. Diane remarks, “It is now one of our ways of staying connected to one another even though we have both since moved and live even farther apart.”
Diane now resides in the southwest corner of Colorado in a habitat referred to as the Piñyon-Juniper woodland or, as she describes it, “Lots of old, gnarly trees in an arid climate.” This unique high desert ecosystem has an abundance of birds and Diane attracts them in droves with a wide variety of feeders, foods, and water features. Diane suggests that adding water resources to count sites is a great way to attract non-feeder birds and increase the diversity of FeederWatch counts. Cooper’s Hawks, bluebirds, Western Tanagers, and nutcrackers, like the Clark’s Nutcracker she photographed (featured above) are all frequent visitors to her birdbaths.
Her feeder birds include juncos, Mountain Chickadees, Pine Siskins, Bewick’s Wrens, Evening Grosbeaks, Black-billed Magpies, Western and Mountain bluebirds, Red Crossbills, three different jay species, and finches of all sorts—the list goes on and on! However, her favorite species is the White-breasted Nuthatch. She adores the “many noises they make and the fact that they seem to be oblivious to being nearby people.”
In addition to backyard birding for Project FeederWatch, Diane serves as the chairwoman for the Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival. Although Diane is modest in describing her role, this is no small feat! The festival requires eight months of planning and draws attendees from across the country and even abroad. She is also in involved in leading a monthly bird outing in her county and belongs to a birding club in a neighboring county.
Diane recently expanded her birding activities to include another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, NestWatch, which studies the reproductive success of nesting birds. She installed six nest boxes and monitored the species, number of eggs, hatchlings, and fledglings and reported her observations to NestWatch. Diane remarked that she loves FeederWatch and “looks forward to it every fall. I was happy to find the NestWatch program, so I could stay involved for more months out of the year.”