Feeder Watch Survey Protocol How to Observe:
You can conduct the Feeder Watch survey using a couple of different techniques – Continuous or Sporadic:
You can conduct your survey in one continuous block of time eg. 60-90 minutes or more. This method will enable you to schedule your day around your survey. You can conduct your survey at any time on count day. You could survey first thing in the morning and then continue about your business for the rest of the day, or leave it to last thing in the afternoon. This way the count need not interrupt your day too much.
If you are unable to devote a continuous chunk of time to the survey, you can conduct your count in multiple smaller blocks of time eg. 5-10 minutes. The benefit of this is that you may be able to better fit this type of survey into your busy Holiday schedule. For example, you could make multiple discreet observation periods by dividing up the Logan CBC day. You could spend 5-10 minutes watching the feeder(s) first thing in the morning; then you could conduct replicate 5-10 min observations every 2-3 hours throughout the rest of the day. At the end of the day, you will have multiple completed datasheets from which you can glean the highest numbers of birds observed for each species.
What to Record
For your convenience, a datasheet can be found at the end of this document for you to keep track of your observations and record your feeder count totals. Please email your results in this format and ensure to complete all parts of the ‘About the Survey’ section at the top of the datasheet.***
I have attached the Logan CBC Sightings Worksheet.
Here’s the BAS checklist by season, but it includes all birds in Cache Valley, it is not narrowed down to the likely backyard birds:
These are some of the most likely birds you will see in your own backyard:
Mourning Dove (rare in winter)
The bird feeder(s) that are being surveyed must be located within the Logan CBC boundary. Therefore, we require you to record the physical address of the feeder(s) being surveyed on the datasheet. We will double check the location of the feeder(s) before adding the data into the full count database. The 15-mile diameter Watch Circle is centered on a vending machine on Main Street & Hyde Park Lane (US 91 & 3600 N).
We need to know how many observers are taking part in your Feeder Watch count. This helps us give credit to those who helped gather the data and aids us in calculating part of the “effort” (in this case, numbers of eyes) used in collecting the data. We cannot accept your data unless we know how many people took part in your feeder count.
It is vitally important to record the start and end time of your survey period(s) because we need to know the “effort” (in this case, time spent watching) used to count the number of individuals and species. Similar to the number of observers, we cannot accept your data unless we know how much time you spent conducting your feeder count.
For the data to be accurate, it is important to correctly identify the different species of bird that use your bird feeder(s) and backyard. Fortunately, there are a limited number of species that occur in Cache Valley’s urban yards in winter and so with a good bird identification website, book or mobile App, learning the different species should be relatively easy.
Feeder Watchers should record the maximum number of each species visible (or within earshot) at any one time as the maximum count. You should not simply tally individuals each time you see them as you do not know for sure that they are different individuals. You may only have 2 or 3 individuals that depart and return repeatedly to the feeder(s). Therefore, only record the maximum number of individuals you see/hear at any one time. For example, if a single Black- capped Chickadee visits your feeder, then later two visit, and later still three show up at your feeder or are visible in a nearby shrub, your count for Black-capped Chickadee will be three – the highest number you see at one time, not 6, the total number of individuals seen. Remember, even if you don’t count any birds during your survey we want your data; zero is a useful data point.
You are not constrained to only recording the birds that come to your bird feeder, you can count any birds that come to your yard, including those that fly through or over your yard too. The majority of Feeder Watchers will position themselves next to a window in their home or apartment where they can get a good view of their bird feeder. From that vantage you may include any other birds that you can accurately identify from the window.
It’s possible to distinguish the sex of some bird species by color. We encourage you to do this if you are confident in your abilities. When looking at House Finches, instead of counting 25 House Finches, we’d prefer it if you counted 16 red (i.e., adult males) and 9 brown (not adult males). That way, if you count again later and have 12 red and 20 brown, you’ll be able to say you had 36 House Finches because the greatest count of “reds” you had was 16 and the greatest count of “browns” you had was 20: 16 + 20 = 36. This of course does not work for all birds, only those that are sexually dimorphic.
Finalizing the Datasheet
Once your survey(s) are complete, please ensure all of the data you have entered on your datasheet is legible. The most important items are the ‘About the Survey’ section, the number of individuals of each species, and the effort taken to record those birds. If you did a single survey of eg. 60 minutes, simply ensure the maximum number of each species is detailed on the datasheet along with the start and end time, and the number of observers. If you did multiple short surveys, tally all of the minutes spent surveying (eg. 10 + 8 + 6 + 10 = 34) at the top of the datasheet and determine which of the surveys recorded the highest maximum number of individuals for each species and report only those. At the end you will have a list with each species listed only once with one number next to each that represents the highest number of individuals for each species observed throughout the time spent surveying.