Last Friday marked the end of Project FeederWatch for this season. The citizen science project runs from the second week of November through the first week in April. My last report period was March 31 - April 1.
It was an interesting 21 weeks, marked by less diversity of species in the yard and at the feeders than we have in many winters, but, as always, there were a few delightfully unexpected visitors to keep things interesting.
For example, this was the first winter in which I have had Rufous Hummingbirds in my yard. One of the birds showed up the first week in January and was last seen in the yard on the 27th of March. Throughout most of this period, two of the birds were in my yard and visiting my feeders. Moreover, the migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds lingered in the yard until December 3 and then made their reappearance earlier than ever before on March 17.
This FeederWatch season marked my first ever sighting of a Dickcissel in my yard. The lone bird visited my feeders on November 26.
Another non-typical sighting was that of the Brown Creeper on March 17.
But perhaps the most notable aspect of this FeederWatch was the birds who were absent. There were no Pine Siskins or Red-breasted Nuthatches. The Orange-crowned Warblers that are plentiful here in some winters did not make a single appearance at my feeders during any of my FeederWatch observation days and I saw only a few of the birds at other times during the winter. Even the Yellow-rumped Warblers were fewer in number than usual. The first Common Grackle was not noted in the yard until March 17 and the birds only appeared on my reports for that date and for March 24. For many years, a Red-shouldered Hawk pair lived in my neighborhood and appeared on practically every report I submitted to any citizen science project. This year, a single Red-shouldered only appeared twice, on December 3 and February 11, while the Red-tailed Hawks were much more likely to be seen and a Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk appeared nearly every week.
My most productive weekend of feeder watching was February 18-19 when I found 29 species of birds feeding in or over my yard. It was not a coincidence that that was a part of the Great Backyard Bird Count weekend which is my most intensive weekend of bird watching during the year. The fewest number of birds were seen on the first weekend of watching, November 12-13, when I only found 13 species.
So this season of feeder watching is in the books but the project is already signing up participants for the next season beginning in November. If you've never participated before, please consider signing up. It's an excellent way to learn more about the birds in your yard and also to provide valuable data to the scientists which can be instrumental in protecting and conserving all birds. The birds need all the help we can give them.