Project FeederWatch (PFW) is a program jointly operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. It is a 21-week survey of birds that begins in November and runs through early April. A diverse community of over 20,000 citizen scientists count birds who are visiting feeders in backyards, nature centers, and community areas across North America. The primary goal of PFW is to track movements of winter bird populations across a broad geographical area, and therefore is a useful tool in documenting bird abundance, distribution, and behavior.
The data collected is used to construct population maps which detect gradual trends in winter ranges of feeder birds. This is especially useful information when a species shows a decline in population. Scientists are able to combine extensive ornithological knowledge with their research data to make recommendations for species recovery. Impacts from environmental factors such as habitat loss and changes in weather patterns are also analyzed.
Westcave Preserve is situated within one of the most biodiverse regions in central Texas. The Edwards Plateau ecoregion has been identified as one of the top ecoregions for bird biodiversity. The Live Oak-Ashe Juniper Savannah that dominates Westcave Preserve supports a variety of endemic avian and specialized species in the area. These criteria make Westcave a prime region to document winter migrating feeder birds.
The Murphy Bird Blind situated within the Uplands at the Preserve, is the product of extensive environmental and ornithological research and was selected for the PFW data collection site. The native area provides suitable and essential natural habitat for birds. The bird blind is also equipped with a bird bath and feeders to attract a variety of species.
Over the past three seasons that Westcave has participated in FeederWatch, 36 species of birds have been observed. This season, 11 volunteers spent 35 hours collecting FeederWatch data.
To learn more about Project FeederWatch, please visit: