Zion Nature Center helps collect information on birds for Project FeederWatch


By Dawn Pearson

The early bird gets the … coffee?

The Zion Nature Center is offering free coffee, tea or hot chocolate to visitors who want to learn about birds and watch them feed. For the fourth year, ZNC is participating in “Project FeederWatch,” which is run through the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.

The sessions run from 9 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of the month through March 2018 (although in January 2018 the meeting will be on the second Saturday). Project FeederWatch is a nationwide research study in its 24th year that involves more than 15,000 participants counting birds at their feeders as often as once per week and sending their observations to scientists at the Cornell Lab. The reports help Cornell scientists better understand bird population trends and movements.

“Project FeederWatch is for all bird lovers,” said Mindy Murdock, Zion Nature Center park naturalist and manager. “Visitors can ask questions, like if you have questions about how to set up feeders, or the best time to watch, what types of food for what types of birds, or what to do if you have a hawk.”

Staff will discuss ways to attract birds to backyards this winter. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be provided but attendees must bring their own mug.

Learn more at Zionsville-in.gov/parks.


Park Naturalist Mindy Murdock listed five reasons why Project FeederWatch is important for scientists. They observe:

  • Long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.
  • Timing and extent of winter irruptions of winter finches and other species.
  • Expansion or contraction in the winter ranges of feeder birds.
  • Foods and environmental factors that attract birds.
  • How disease is spread among birds that visit feeders.

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