Project Feederwatch

chickadee eating seeds

Be a citizen scientist!  This long running program is a great way to improve your observational skills and contribute real data to a study being conducted right across the continent.  For more information, go to the feederwatch website.

Every Thursday and/or Friday session is at the feeder outside The Arboretum Centre

Every Saturday and/or Sunday session is at the feeder in the Gosling Wildlife Gardens

Counts run from mid-November to mid-April every year.  You can come for as long or as short as you want and just on one day or up to all four!

a variety of birds in the arboretum


  • Print out the pdf sheet below and fill out all of the information - we need this to enter later on the feederwatch site
  • Correctly ID the birds you see – use a field guide if needed (there is a small one you can borrow from us if you'd like).
  • The birds don’t have to be “on” the feeder to be counted, as long as they are within the feeder ecosystem/site. For example, if there is a bird sitting in an adjacent tree, or on the ground, or flying within the feeder site, those all count as well! Predator birds like hawks count, too, since they are interested in the small birds at the feeder site.
  • Don’t count birds that are simply flying overhead, like a Canadian Goose or Sandhill Crane.
  • You count how many birds you can see at ONE TIME. Not how many you saw in total for the time you were there. Why? Because if you count one robin, and then 20 minutes later you count a second robin, there is a possibility that you just counted the same robin twice. Therefore, you must see all the birds to count them (or hear one behind you while looking at two others for a sighting of 3, for example).
  • If you have a first sighting of 3 chickadees, and then at a second sighting you see 4 chickadees, do not add these numbers. But keep the 4 as your latest tally because you just beat your last sighting of 3. Think of it as obtaining your highest score.
  • Sexual dimorphism can’t be a loop hole to the above point. So if you saw a male cardinal, and then you saw a female cardinal 20 minutes later, you cannot count that as 2 cardinal. It still counts as only 1 sighting because you technically only saw one at a time. Why do this when you know the male and female are not the same bird? For statistical consistency. Chickadees, for example, cannot be sexed, so if you can’t do the male/female cheat with chickadees, then you can’t do it with cardinals either.

When you are done, you can drop the sheet off at The Arboretum Centre (open 8:30 to 4:45, Mon-Fri) attention Chris Earley or scan it and email it to Chris at  Or mail it to Chris Earley, The Arboretum, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontariio, N1G 2W1

If you have any questions come talk to either Chris, Alexandra or Jason in the offices here at The Arboretum Center. We will also let you borrow binoculars or field guides if you need them.  And if you are here on a Thursday or Friday and see an uncommon bird, be sure to come in and tell us!

File attachments

PDF icon Feederwatch Tally Sheet - 20161213.pdf192.06 KB