At only thirteen years-old, Olivia Gallagher of Sussex County, New Jersey, is putting together a resume to inspire birders of all ages. While Olivia is a self-described “nature-lover,” birds are her sweet spot. She wrote, “I decided to focus my interest mainly on birds because they are so diverse and interesting.” Olivia’s science teacher recognized her passion and introduced Olivia to Project FeederWatch.
Feeder Birds & Tips to Attract Them
Using the FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds interactive, Olivia was able to determine the food and feeder preferences of the birds that visit her count site. The research paid off and her count site is quite diverse! During the 2015-16 season her count site hosted 20 different species and so far this season (2016-17), she has reported 17 different species.
Her favorite feeder bird is the Red-breasted Nuthatch. She described, “The nuthatches are so fun to watch, and this year was the first time they came to our feeders.” Her most common feeder bird is the Black-capped Chickadee. More uncommon visitors include Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, and White-crowned and Fox sparrows.
Olivia shared a few tips to create a bird-friendly count site. “In the winter it’s nice to put out a tree by the feeders for cover, and a constant supply of water in the winter is much appreciated by the birds. We use our Christmas tree after the holidays to act as a landing area and suet holder. Santa also brought a birdbath water warmer,” wrote Olivia. In the summer, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are attracted to her yard because Olivia and her family planted an array of flowers to supplement the nectar feeders.
Living on a lake, Olivia can observe many non-feeder birds as well. She commonly sees Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, cormorants, and the occasional Bald Eagle.
With FeederWatch as her springboard, Olivia jumped headlong into the world of birds. Currently she is taking the Bird Academy’s online course that accompanies the Cornell Lab’s textbook Handbook of Bird Biology. Olivia volunteers at the Avian Wildlife Center, and as a member of her school’s environmental club, she is installing nest boxes for bluebirds and screech-owls. In addition, Olivia is a budding artist. She sketches and photographs many of her feeder visitors.
Olivia visited the Cornell Lab and had the opportunity to bird at Sapsucker Woods. On her hike she saw many waterfowl like Common and Hooded mergansers. She also had the chance to see our FeederWatch cam, which she wrote, “…was also cool since I check it every day on my computer when I am far away back at home. It was an awesome trip!”