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Volume xviii, Issue 2 ~ January 14 - January 20, 2010

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Frost on the Feathers

Document your feathered friends’ struggle for survival

by Margaret Tearman

This winter’s been a rough one — and it’s not even officially one month old. Already a good number of us are dreaming of warmer days and shoveling mulch, not snow. Until those days arrive, at least we have a warm shelter to retreat to after hours bent over in sub-zero wind chills pushing the white stuff.

But what about our neighborhood birds? Have you ever seen a blue jay escaping the cold, sipping a hot toddy, perched in front of a warming fire? If so, Cornell University wants to hear from you.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds project asks bird watchers to send evidence of neighborhood birds surviving the frigid weather. It can be a photo, artwork, video, even a story or a poem describing how birds are finding the food, water and shelter they need. People of all ages are eligible, as are groups such as schools, libraries, clubs and businesses. Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round citizen-science project focused on birds in neighborhood settings.

“It’s unbelievable how even tiny birds can survive being outdoors 24/7 in places where winter is cold and snowy,” says project leader Karen Purcell. “We want to see how they’re getting along. It might be a crow huddling near a chimney to get warm, visits to bird feeders, a berry bush that birds raid for food, a fountain birds use for water, or maybe even one of the lucky birds soaking up the sun in a warm, southern state.”

Prizes include a pair of Eagle Optics binoculars, bird feeders, a birdsong calendar, books, posters, cards and more. The first 50 entrants are rewarded with a Little Green Places poster, and selected images and videos will be posted on the Celebrate Urban Birds website.

To enter, email entries to [email protected] If you submit a video, post it on YouTube and send Cornell the link. Write Survival_your firstname your last name your state in the subject line. Include your mailing address in your email.

Explain why you submitted your entry. Describe your winter conditions and what you observe the birds doing during winter.

One entry per person, please.

Deadline is February 15.

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