Citizen Science for the Birds

News Release, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Why do birds come to feeders? In a new collaboration between Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Malisch and Derrick May’s third-grade class at Chesapeake Public Charter School, scientists new and experienced are working to collect data for Project FeederWatch.

Following weekly bird identification instruction from Malisch, May’s students record the number and species of birds visiting the feeders outside their classroom window and enter the data into an online database at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This database is used by scientists to determine bird population density and the timing of migration.

On a recent class visit, Malisch and the students discussed why they see more birds on the feeders just before winter weather arrives. Nine-year old Samuel Angay said, “It’s like the grocery store the day before it snows!”

This project is also supported by a locally owned franchise, Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington Park, who donated a tube feeder and a hopper feeder to facilitate the project.

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