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Citizen Science for the Birds

Assistant Professor Jessica Malisch and Derrick May stand by the bird feeders donated by Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington Park for Project FeederWatch at the Chesapeake Public Charter School

St. Mary’s City, Md. - Why do birds come to feeders? In a new collaboration between Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Malisch and Derrick May’s third-grade class at Chesapeake Public Charter School, scientists new and experienced are working to collect data for Project FeederWatch.

Following weekly bird identification instruction from Malisch, May’s students record the number and species of birds visiting the feeders outside their classroom window and enter the data into an online database at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This database is used by scientists to determine bird population density and the timing of migration.

On a recent class visit, Malisch and the students discussed why they see more birds on the feeders just before winter weather arrives. Nine-year old Samuel Angay said, “It’s like the grocery store the day before it snows!”

This project is also supported by a locally owned franchise, Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington Park, who donated a tube feeder and a hopper feeder to facilitate the project.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education through 2024-2025. St. Mary’s College, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best public liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 1,600 students attend the college, nestled on the St. Mary’s River in Southern Maryland.

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