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The Eurasian Collared-Dove has spread rapidly across North America during the past 30 years. Photo by Patricia Jones Mestas/FeederWatch.

ITHACA, NY, Oct. 27, 2016 – One Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, or Tufted Titmouse at a time, Project FeederWatch participants are making new scientific discoveries possible. This long-running citizen-science project has amassed decades of information about winter feeder birds across the United States and Canada. The 30th season of FeederWatch kicks off on November 12.

“We have such loyal participants,” says project leader Emma Greig at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Some have been with us for all 30 years. We’re going to be recognizing this level of long-term dedication to the project during this milestone year.”

More than 20,000 participants report species counts at their feeders during periodic two-day watches through early April. These counts add up to a lot of information, and after 29 years of watching, FeederWatchers have helped scientists discover the expanded ranges of some species because of climate change, track the spread of disease, and predict periodic mass movements of birds, called “irruptions.”

“The data become more valuable the longer they are collected,” says Greig. “You need to collect data before and after an unusual event in order to really understand its impact. FeederWatch observations have driven our discoveries about the spread of House Finch eye disease and the explosion of the invasive Eurasian Collared-Doves from Florida all the way to Alaska.”

Many FeederWatchers are quick to say the project is not a one-way street. They get a lot in return for simply doing what they love.

“I love being a part of Project FeederWatch,” says Diane Aman from Southfield, Michigan. “I’ve been watching and counting birds for 15 years now and it has become a source of daily joy, entertainment, excitement, and learning. Even on days that have been ‘tough,’ I can count on my feathered friends to lift my spirits, make me smile, and brighten my outlook.”

Wild Birds Unlimited is helping FeederWatch celebrate the 30th season.  As a special thank-you to FeederWatchers, Wild Birds Unlimited is offering $15 off any $50 purchase at their stores. They will also be providing prizes for the annual BirdSpotter Photo Contest, which will have some new twists this year: you don’t have to be a photographer to enter the contest during some weeks. You just have to be a FeederWatcher!

Learn more about the contest at feederwatch.org/birdspotter.

To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up online,  visit FeederWatch.org. To register by phone in the U.S., call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In Canada, contact Bird Studies Canada at (888) 448-2473, toll-free.

In return for the $18 fee ($15 for Cornell Lab members), U.S. participants receive the FeederWatch Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings. The fee is $35 in Canada and includes Bird Studies Canada membership.

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.