November: Be a Citizen Scientist

Want to be a citizen-scientist? Want to give bird research a big boost? Then, join Project FeederWatch, the national project to count our birds throughout the winter. FeederWatch starts now and continues until April. And, it's easy to do:
--Sign up on the web site for just $18
--Get your Feederwatch materials in the mail
--Put out a feeder, if you don't have one already
--Pick a spot in your yard or by a window, and choose a schedule to watch the feeder.
--Start counting birds
It seems simple, but your input provides valuable information for scientists. It helps them track the overall health of the birds in your area and the number of specific species in each part of the country. Thanks for helping!                     

                         Right: Red-Breasted Nuthatch on a peanut feeder                             

Red-breasted Nuthatches don't show up near the coast very often, but now is the time when they venture down from the mountains to the lowlands. Known for their habit of creeping down a tree trunk head first, they like to gather in pine trees. They appreciate tree nuts and suet, as do their more common cousins, the White-Breasted Nuthatches. Both will amuse you as they creep down tree trunks.

Now, all the warblers who stay the winter–the Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, Townsends and Black-throated Gray Warblers--are present throughout the region. To see these beautiful, songful birds, keep mealworm feeders full.

Goldfinches had a feast in the mountains last summer and were missing from some local feeders. However, now the cooler nights will have them thinking of easier ways to get fed, especially if they can find feeders with nyjer and/or sunflower chips.


Left: Bustit in dense branches

They are finished breeding, so now little Bushtits will come to your yard in large groups to clean up the bugs. They particularly like nutritious suet, so put out a square or cylinder of suet in one of your densest bushes. A dense leafy bush gives them protection from predators, including cats.

If you see a big light-gray gull with a five-foot wing span, it's probably a Glaucous-Winged Gull, which visits this time of year. The Western Gulls that we see all year have dark-gray wings, and a yellow bill with a red spot. The two species interbreed often, so you may see birds at the beach that look a bit like both. These gulls are beautiful large birds that forage beaches incessantly, but will gladly accept food made for waterfowl.

The Leonid Meteor Shower, so called because the meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Leo, peaks from evening Nov. 16 to the morning of Nov. 17. It produces small meteors from the debris of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. The moon will be just a few days past full, so its light may dim the show a bit.