Bird Feeder Project

The Bird Feeder Project is a BDI citizen science initiative involving school learners and youth eco-clubs. Each learner who participates gets a bird feeder and a bag of wild bird seed. The feeders are hung close enough to a window so that photos (for identification purposes) can be taken with a cellphone. Learners are taught a scientific protocol for doing 10-minute watches and recording the species they see, in the order they see them, and try to count the number of birds. Anyone with a bird feeder in their garden can participate!

The Bird Feeder Project includes a booklet called A Guide to the Common Garden Birds of Cape Town. This is published as part of the journal Biodiversity Observations. This guide contains photos which point out the most important identification features of 32 species commonly seen in gardens in Cape Town. The text for each species ends with a link to the page on the BDI website with more information on each species; this easily enables the user to go deeper into each species than just identification, and to learn more about the biology of the species that interest them. These species texts contain the same identification information as in the booklet. In addition they have sections on habitat, with photos to illustrate the kind of place where the bird occurs; there is a distribution map from the bird atlas project; and a section on behaviour. If you have the Guide open on your screen, you can click on a link to go to the species text. If you have it printed on paper, there is a QR code to use to do this.

Participants in the Bird Feeder Project will learn how to upload their cellphone photos into the BirdPix section of the Virtual Museum, where they will be curated for posterity. The 10-minute watches will rapidly grow into a valuable monitoring database. The Bird Feeder Project is an excellent opportunity for students to engage with nature and learn more about birds.

Here is a list of the species included in the Guide to the Common Garden Birds of Cape Town, with links that take you to the website for each species:

At the seed bird feeder…

On the ground…

In the trees…

Flying overhead and on rooftops…

Other interesting visitors…

The BDI is grateful to WESSA, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, for funding to get this project started.