Episode-223- Join Project FeederWatch

As if I don’t have enough projects I decided to take on another long term fun project to help pass time in the winter. I never really spent too much time worrying about the birds in my yard but last year year my older brother inspired me to consider adding a bird feeder to my permaculture setting. That led me to break out the bird house my daughter built a few years ago and actually put it to use. Then I found some nice plans for a fun to build bird feeder with my trusty Makita hypoid circular saw and put that in the yard last spring. Shortly afterwards I was doing more bird research and decided a bird bath with a running pump would be easy and cheap to build and I did with my children. At the time I didn’t realize how useful it would become as a waterer for the honey bees in my yard.

Somehow back in September I came across Project FeederWatch created by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. I was intrigued and perused the information about this long standing project to monitor birds. The intent is to help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. For a small $15 fee I learned I could participate in the scientific project and become involved with tracking the ecological health of birds in my backyard. I have participated in projects before like the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) on my computers. But I had not participated in a long term scientific project before even when I was a Physics student at Pitt years ago. Project FeederWatch runs annually from November through early April and basically consists of observing birds in the backyard each week over a consecutive two day period. Notes are taken on the types of birds observed and recorded on the Project FeederWatch website.

In late October I received a cool package of materials including a beautiful bird identification poster, an informative booklet on birds, their habitat, bird food, bird disease and the subject of today’s short video, squirrel proof bird feeders. So this past weekend I was ready to jump in the car and go to Home Depot to get some bird feeders and remebered tenet 2 of my financial savings plan: Does anything I have fill the role now? The answer was yes. I got all kinds of resources at home and what you see in the video was built in just a day. One feeder consists of 2 inch PVC pipe, some hardware cloth, a coat hanger, a wooden dowel and a yogurt cup. The other design consists of an empty 2 liter grape jug, hardware cloth, coat hanger and a dowel. Both feeders were painted black to keep bacteria growth down and I filled them with stones to the level of the first feeding holes. I decided to spend a little extra money ($16) and use some nice sunflower seeds for the feed but forgot to add crushed egg shells to aid the digestive process.

Next was the tricky step because I had to string them up somewhere and in some way as to mitigate squirrel attacks. After much contemplation I decided to run a wire about 10 feet high from my shed to a tree about 30 feet away. Before trying it up I strung a number of foot long 1/2 inch PVC pipes on either side of the feeders. This was done with the intent of making it difficult for squirrels to traverse the wire. I will have to keep an eye on things to see if it works as a bird not squirrelnfeeder. It may take some time for the feeders to become attractive to birds but with the bird bath running and the feeders full I have noticed a bit of activity in the yard at least where Robbins are concerned. If in fact the feeders do become successful I will later put up a step by step for completing your own squirrel proof bird feeder.

In the meantime I look forward to observing birds in the backyard on the weekends and recording what I see for Project FeederWatch. Consider joining yourself and be a part of a scientific project that may have an impact on the continuance of birds in your backyard.


6 Question Pre-Purchase program

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Does anything I have fill the role now?
  3. How long will it last?
  4. What will it do for me and my family?
  5. How long must I work to pay for it?
  6. If I don’t buy it what difference will it really make?
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