California Naturalist
California Naturalist
California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

Northern CA PPSR Projects 1

Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

Project Feeder Watch

Organization Name
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Project Website
Bird Studies Canada
Contact Name
Contact Email
Contact Phone
(607) 254-2427; (800) 843-2473
Other Contact Information
Project Purpose (taken from project materials)

Data show which bird species visit feeders at thousands of locations across the continent every winter. The data also indicate how many individuals of each species are seen. This information can be used to measure changes in the winter ranges and abundances of bird species over time.

FeederWatch data tell us where birds are as well as where they are not. This crucial information enables scientists to piece together the most accurate population maps.

The massive amounts of data collected by FeederWatchers across the continent help scientists understand

  • long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance
  • the timing and extent of winter irruptions of winter finches and other species.
  • expansions or contractions in the winter ranges of feeder birds
  • the kinds of foods and environmental factors that attract birds
  • how disease is spread among birds that visit feeders
Participant Activities

(1) Set-up a bird feeder; (2) Count the birds that visit; (3) send the data to scientists. Step-by-step instructions for each of these steps are on the website.

Data Entry
  • Website
  • Data Sheets
Other Participant Activities

The project provides educator and home school resources, as well as "participants' corner" with forums, group projects, and other ways to learn and communicate with other Feeder Watch participants

System Studied
  • Birds
Geographic Scope
All (see 'geographic scope')
Wherever you can set up and observe a bird feeder
Location - Map
Time Commitment
  • Other (see Other Information below)
Volunteer Qualifications
Volunteer Training

Participants receive a Research Kit, which contains instructions, a bird identification poster, a wall calendar, a resource guide to bird feeding, and a tally sheet. U.S. participants receive a subscription to the Lab of Ornithology's newsletter, BirdScope.

Cost to Participant

$18 annual participation fee ($15 for Lab members, CAN$35 for Canadian participants), which covers materials, staff support, web design, data analysis, and a year-end report

How will the findings be used?

FeederWatch information and results are regularly published in

  • Scientific Journals
              - The Condor  
              - The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Regional Birding, Garden, and Nature Newsletters
              - Birdscope, newsletter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology 
              - BirdWatch Canada, newsletter of Bird Studies Canada
  • National Magazines
              - Audubon Magazine
              - Birder's World
              - BirdWatchers Digest
              - Birds and Bloom
  • Newspapers nationwide

FeederWatch data were used for a book about backyard birds calledBirds at Your Feeder. Sample pages of the book can be seen onGoogle Books.

FeederWatch data are also used to help Project FeederWatch participants and Lab of Ornithology members learn more about feeder birds through the project's annual publication, Winter Bird Highlights, which reports results from each season.

Data is also available to participants through the website.

Other Information

The feeder survey is conducted each winter starting on the second Saturday of November and runs for 21 weeks, through the first Friday of April. You may join at any time of year. The last day to sign up for any given season is Feb. 28 or 29. On Mar. 1 we begin taking sign-ups for the following season. Kits are shipped in the fall or, if you sign up during the season, about 2 weeks after you sign up.

Participants select their own bird-count days--two consecutive days once every two weeks (or every week if participants enter data online and choose to count that often).

last update:

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check

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