Photo by Mike Timmons
Winter Bird Feeder Count
The purpose of this survey is to obtain information about the numbers and types of birds that visit feeders throughout Indiana. If done in a consistent manner over a number of years, it will document changes in populations of various feeder birds. The survey is also designed to look at changes in the types of birds visiting feeders in Indiana through the winter. Information about your location and feeders may help explain the makeup of the birds that visit your particular locale and also come up with better recommendations for feeding birds.
In order to participate you should be able to identify the bird species listed on the reporting form. These are species that can be expected to use the food you provide or, in the case of the hawks, are attracted to the concentrations of birds you feed. Other bird species not listed may occasionally show up at your feeder and space is provided for them, but be sure to send documentation of these rarities. The most common mistakes may be in telling the difference between house finches (much more common) and purple finches (study the males and females), and the black-capped chickadee (roughly north of the Wabash River in the northern third of Indiana) and the Carolina chickadee (southern 2/3’s of the state). Study those field guides!
You should report the maximum number of individuals of each species seen feeding at one time at or near your feeders during the count periods. Tally birds on a separate sheet and report the final numbers on the reporting form. In some species (cardinals, woodpeckers, towhee, purple and house finches), the sexes can be readily distinguished and the maximum number of individuals of each sex counted separately and summed. (Example: during a 30-minute period on day one you count as many as 10 goldfinches and 2 male cardinals at one time. The next day you see as many as 8 goldfinches and a male and female cardinal. Your tally for those two periods would be 10 goldfinches and 3 cardinals.) Do no count birds that fly by your house or never show an interest in the food you are providing. Robins and waxwings feeding on fruiting shrubs should not be counted unless you actually put fruit out in your feeders or you see them feeding on other food you put out. Bird-eating hawks should be counted if you note them showing interest in your feeder birds.
You do not have to count on each day of every designated time period. You should try to make counts for each time period, but if you are unable to make a count during one or more of them, that’s acceptable. The best strategy for recording species is to make short, periodic counts throughout the day, or watch for more extended periods of time during more active periods (early morning, late afternoon).
The results will be published in the Indiana Audubon Quarterly. If you would like the survey results sent to you, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (business size) along with your completed survey.
Please send the completed reporting form by 15 March to:
780 Lawrenceport Road
Mitchell, IN 47446
Feel free to photocopy and distribute this survey to others who may be interested.Download Form