Brighten Winter Days with Birds

Ovenbird at Swift Preserve

As we head into what is being called the ‘dark winter,’ why not brighten your days at home with birds! Watching birds can be a great way to not only pass the time but to connect with the natural world around you and spend time with family and friends. There are many great resources designed to help you get to know your backyard visitors. And, if you use any of the suggested programs and apps below, you will also be contributing to science – helping scientists learn more about birds to protect them ensure they grace your yard for years to come.

Project Feeder Watch App

From November to April, this program looks to citizens to simply watch their bird feeders and report what they see. You can report whenever is convenient for you; any reports are helpful. If you don’t know your birds, now is a great time to learn them! Project Feeder Watch provides resources for learning winter birds, species that are relatively easy to identify. You do need to download the free app and register online before you can begin counting. Get started at

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird App

Barred owl by Lisa J. Bowdish

While you are waiting for your Feeder Watch registration to be complete, you can start watching birds now and logging them using the eBird app. This free app lets you record the birds you see based on hotspots or general locations, like your backyard. All of Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s preserves are eBird hotspots and will generate a list of potential birds you may see at these locations. The Bird app makes bird watching so easy!

Not confident identifying birds?

Are you new to birding? Download the free Merlin app created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology! By answering a few quick questions about your observation, the apps narrow down the list of possible birds to just a few species. It also shows you photos and plays songs to help you identify your bird.  

Sarah Walsh with a Harris’s hawk

You can share this experience with friends too – bird feeders make a great holiday gift. Birds are also a great conversation piece. Sharing what you have seen with others can help you identify your birds and help family and friends identify theirs too. So get outside this season for a walk to identify birds – it’s a good way to spend time with family and friends safely.

Happy Holidays!



Sarah Walsh
Conservation Director


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