Saturday, February 5 – Sunday, February 6 – Focus on Feeders

Bird feeding has become an extremely popular winter activity in our region. Harnessing that interest, Mass Audubon and its partners have enlisted enthusiastic feeder watchers of all ages to track trends in abundance of winter feeder bird species for more than 40 years.  Observations from the bird watching public contribute to a growing database that can provide early warning signs on changes in abundance of bird species that visit feeders.

For example, feeder watching in Massachusetts has helped document the decline of the House Finch as a result of conjunctivitis, and the northward expansion of the Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Wren in response to warmer winters.  The Mass Audubon staff especially appreciate reading the many comments submitted by participants as they can help them interpret results (e.g., “Feeder birds down this year” or “where are all my redpolls?”). The wildlife photos often sent in with Focus on Feeders observations are great, too!

Step 1: During the weekend of February 5 and 6, simply note the diversity and number of each species in view at any one time.

Step 2: Record your observations on the official Focus on Feeders Report Form (PDF 597K) found on the Mass Audubon website and either mail it to Mass Audubon or submit your findings online (starting February 5).

Step 3: Get your camera ready. They’ll award prizes in several categories for wildlife photographs submitted with bird observations. Winning photographs will also appear on the Mass Audubon website. All wildlife photos are welcome and need not be limited to birds. Amateur photographers only, please. All photos submitted become the property of Mass Audubon.  2010 Best Overall Photo below was taken by Harry Becker.

Step 4: Ask your friends and neighbors to join the fun, as the value of the data collected increases with the number of participants. The names of all those who report their observations will be entered into a drawing to win one of several prizes, including Mass Audubon baseball caps and more.

Learn about the history of feeder watching in Massachusetts, or see past results.  To learn more please email

Harry Becker, A Visual Feast (Cedar Waxwings)