2008 Focus on Feeders Results & Highlights

We would like to thank the more than 700 backyard bird feeding enthusiasts from across Massachusetts who took part in this fun and educational annual event. Focus on Feeders helps to raise conservation awareness, and further Mass Audubon's efforts to protect wildlife and habitat in Massachusetts.

Highlights

  • Nearly 50 different species were reported. The top five remains unchanged, although Mourning Dove replaced Dark-eyed Junco with the greatest number reported. 
  • The species observed in the greatest numbers were Mourning Doves (3,697 sightings), Dark-eyed Juncos (3,595 sightings), House (English) Sparrow (3,229 sightings), Black-capped Chickadees (3,011 sightings), and American Goldfinch (2,548 sightings).
  • Numbers of birds per participant were down from 2007, and most species decreased, including Dark-eyed Junco, whose sightings per observer were down from a record high in 2007. Eurasian Starling decreased by nearly 50%. Black-capped Chickadee sightings increased by nearly 25%. 
  • Care should be taken before generalizing from these short-term changes that reflect variation in participation from year to year and differences in weather. Several participants noted that feeder visitation was down the weekend of the count, especially compared to previous weeks.
  • Some interesting patterns are beginning to emerge, and we will continue to provide more detailed analysis of these results in upcoming posts to our web site. Starlings appear to be experiencing a long-term decline in feeder numbers. We will be filtering our database for those participants who have been reporting since 2003 and focus our analysis on changes in those feeder reports.
  • We had a wet winter, with lots of snow and rain, and generally cold temperatures. Winter finches (grosbeaks and redpolls) and Bohemian Waxwings were widely reported in Massachusetts this year. Pine Siskins were infrequent, interestingly enough.
  • Thanks to your participation, our winter feeder database continues to grow. The current Focus on Feeders program dates from 1997, and the updated rank order of birds visiting feeders since 1997 can be found in the Rank Order table.