Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Oct. 18, 2007)
Birds, like people, are flocking to the
Traditionally 20 to 30 years ago American couples fell in love, got married, bought
a home, had 2.5 children (not sure how they did that) and lived in the same house
until their grandkids were old enough to come for visits.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|A tufted titmouse visits the
In 2007, Americans have become increasingly on the move.
The average American moves 11 times in a lifetime, explains U-Haul
President John J.T. Taylor. In 2005 and 2006, among the Top 10 U.S.
states with more than 20,000 families moving in, the southeastern locations
included Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana
and Tennessee. During this time, the Southeast has seen rapid development and
increases in human populations.
New research reveals that people are not the only animals moving to the
Southeastern region, some species of birds are, too.
Bird watchers across the region have helped chart changes in the regions
feeder birds by participating in Project FeederWatch, a volunteer-based project led
by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The Southeast region for Project FeederWatch includes North Carolina, South
Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. For example,
reports from the Southeast indicate that populations of two dove species are
rapidly expanding their ranges in the region.
The Eurasian collared-dove is not native to North America. However, after being
introduced in the Bahamas and spreading to Florida in the 1980s, populations of
this species have rapidly grown and expanded into new areas.
FeederWatchers across the Southeast reported these doves last winter, and this new
invader will likely be seen at feeders across the United States within a
The white-winged dove is moving into the region a bit more slowly. Unlike the
Eurasian collared-dove, the white-winged dove is native to North America. It has
been spreading out if its historic range in Mexico and the Southwest, with birds
seen most often in states along the Gulf Coast. This dove, too, will likely be seen
at more feeders in the region in coming years.
Another surprising trend detected by bird watchers in the Southeast has been an
increase in the number of hummingbirds in the winter. Many people are familiar with
the ruby-throated hummingbirds that buzz around flowers and nectar feeders in the
Upon close inspection, however, most of the hummingbirds seen in winter are not
the ruby-throated hummingbirds that nest in the region, but rather western species
that typically winter in Mexico. An increase in hummingbird feeders and flowers
blooming year-round in suburban gardens may have increased the likelihood that any
lost hummingbirds will survive the winter in the Southeast. Over time, this could
lead to more and more hummingbirds traveling to spend the winter in the region.
Each season brings new information about bird populations.
To a songbird, 20 years is a long time. In fact, the birds at your feeders have
passed through several generations in the last 20 years. What will the coming
winter bring to bird feeders? You can help document changes in bird
Anyone can contribute observations of birds seen at feeders during the winter
months. Combined with reports from across the region, the information submitted by
participants can help reveal trends in bird populations. FeederWatchers help to
document changes in the abundance and distribution of birds by simply watching and
counting the birds at their own feeders.
Top 10 birds reported by FeederWatchers in the Southeast in 2007:
1. Northern Cardinal
2. Mourning Dove
3. Tufted Titmouse
4. Carolina Wren
5. American Goldfinch
6. Red-bellied Woodpecker
7. Carolina Chickadee
8. Blue Jay
9. Downy Woodpecker
10. American Robin
The 21st season of Project FeederWatch gets under way in November and runs through
early April. Anyone in the United States and Canada can participate, and people of
all ages and skill levels are welcome.
FeederWatchers across the Southeastern U.S. have helped create the
worlds largest database of feeder-bird populations, said ornithologist
and project leader David Bonter. To understand the effects of global climate
change, habitat change, and other factors on birds, we need new and veteran
participants to let us know what they are seeing in their own yards and
To learn more about Project FeederWatch or to register, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw" target="_blank">www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw or call the Lab toll-free at 800-843-2473.
You also may visit the Labs Web site at www.birds.cornell.edu.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.