Feeding the Birds
By Gabe Colbeck
We currently have a bird feeder set up on the edge of the forest across from the Anheuser Busch Academic Center. We are only putting black-oil sunflower seeds in the feeder in order to maximize use by native species, and minimize use by non-native invasive species (House Sparrows and European Starlings). Our feeder is hanging from a shepherd’s hook, with a baffle half-way up the pole. This way, we feed the birds, and not the squirrels (not that there’s anything wrong with squirrels, but they are voracious eaters and too expensive to feed!).
We hope that the feeder will provide an interesting aesthetic experience for everyone who walks or drives by, and hope that we can spark some additional interest in birds and biology. In addition, this feeder will provide research experiences for undergraduates. We will use the feeder to train students to identify species by sight and sound, we will catch and band birds and train students basic field ornithology techniques, and we will use the feeder for independent research projects (e.g. how does species diversity change with temperature over the winter, and how might climate change affect this diversity?).
The feeder and the projects that revolve around it fit into our larger goal of increasing biological awareness and interest through hands-on experiences. There are some very cool things that happen at a bird feeder, one just needs to watch for a few minutes!
Species as of Jan. 26, 2012