You can join thousands of people who are helping scientists find out more about North America's birds simply by counting the birds that visit your backyard feeders. You can sign up for Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. There is a small fee of $15 you'll need to pay which covers the materials you'll receive (bird identification poster, instrctional materials and tally sheet).
The project started last November but runs through early April. Data gathered so far indicates that several finch species have been spotted in parts of the United States that they normally do not visit. Common redpolls are among the surprise visitors. Common redpolls are energetic finches with a red cap and rose-colored vest. The species is usually present in the United States during winter months only when resources are scarce in Canada.
When sighted during the winter when shortages force the birds southward, they usually are only spotted either in eastern or western parts of the United States. However, this year, common redpolls have been spotted across the continent and as far south as North Carolina.
Other uncommon species that have been sighted by this year's Project FeederWatch participants include pine siskins, red-breasted nuthathes, evening grosbeaks, white-winged corssbills and red crossbills.
Photo (top) © Yury Taranik / BigStock. Photo (bottom) © Maria Corcacas / Courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology.