For Joshua Cutler of Washington, New Jersey, birding is a practice passed down from generation to generation. Joshua wrote, “I was born to a father who was an avid bird watcher, as was his mother. I imagine that my interest started before I learned how to talk, because my father was always pointing out birds and their songs.” When Joshua’s father heard about a new citizen-science project starting at the Cornell Lab, he signed up himself and his son to join Project FeederWatch.
FeederWatch Count Site
Joshua and his wife Diana live and work at the Tibetan Buddhist Dharma Center (TBLC) located on 32 forested acres in eastern New Jersey. “I work where I live so I keep a constant eye on my feeder birds. Because I am used to seeing who is regularly there, I love how quickly I can spot an unusual visitor,” notes Joshua.
At the TBLC, bird watching is an interest and hobby shared with visitors far and wide. Joshua wrote, “We have hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama here 8 times. He admired my feeder line because he feeds birds at his home in India!”
The feeder setup is designed to deter bears and squirrels. Joshua strung a long wire line between two trees. The line is roughly 10 feet high and contains a number of tube and suet feeders. Joshua keeps his feathered friends happy with black-oil sunflower seeds and suet. He also sprinkles the ground with cracked corn and millet. A birdbath on the deck and a kitchen window feeder allow Joshua and Diana to enjoy birds from a variety of viewpoints.
The feeders and birdbath attract a diversity of birds including Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, House Finches, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, and American Goldfinches. Red-bellied, Downy, and Hairy woodpeckers also frequent the count site along with the occasional Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, and Red-tailed hawks. In the last 10 years, Joshua and Diana also have had the privilege of seeing Evening Grosbeaks.
In addition to being a member of FeederWatch, Joshua participates in two different Christmas Bird Counts, a century old annual count run by Audubon. He also participates in the World Series of Birding conducted by New Jersey Audubon every May. “Otherwise,” Joshua wrote, “I am always birding. I just love birds and seeing them wherever I go.”