Watch winter birds for science, get a free calendar

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the science of birds) wants help tracking winter birds in North America.  You and your kids can join Project Feeder Watch and become citizen scientists!

Your observations of backyard birds will help the lab understand what is happening to populations of birds – whether their habitats and migrations are changing, and whether their numbers are declining.  According to the lab, this is information about bird population “that cannot be detected by any other available method.”

All you have to do is order a kit, put up a feeder, count the birds who visit it, and report your observations to the project.  They do request a $15 donation to offset the cost of the kit, which includes a bird identification poster, instructions, and a newsletter.

And your kids’ observations are used for real world purposes.  For example, data from this project, which showed a steady decline in the population of Painted Buntings in Florida.  This information helped lead the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission to begin systematic monitoring of this species to see how they could be protected.

And the Cornell Lab wants you to have a free 2012 “Bird-Watching Days” calendar, (while supplies last) whether or not you participate!