Project Wildbird

Overview
While several studies have examined aspects of food and feeder preferences, the most important questions had not yet been adequately addressed.  To rectify this industry void, the WBFI Research Foundation conducted PROJECT WILDBIRD®, a landmark scientific study designed to determine food and feeder preferences of common backyard wild birds throughout the United States and Canada.  During the research period which lasted between 2005 and 2008, individuals from forty-two US states and three Canadian provinces made over 20,000 45-minute observations of bird feeders which resulted in recording 1,282,424 bird visits of 106 species. 

Approach
The observational technique used to obtain the data involved monitoring birds during breeding, wintering, and the two migratory seasons each year for a given eco-region. Participants recorded food and feeders used and species attracted to a variety of food and feeder combinations.  A subset of the participants employing the experimental approach were assigned specific food and feeder combinations and asked to record the number of each species of bird present at the feeders. 

Results
The comprehensive results compiled by Principal Investigator Dr. David Horn of MillikinUniversity (IL) ascertained that the ten most common species visiting feeders were:
  • American Goldfinch
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Brown Headed Cowbird
  • Common Grackle
  • House Finch
  • House Sparrow
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Pine Siskin
  • Purple Finch

The study also identified the seeds proven most attractive to birds as:

  • Black Oil Sunflower
  • Fine and Medium Sunflower Chips
  • Nyjer®
  • White Proso Millet

In general, chickadees, nuthatches, and larger finches preferred black-oil sunflower, smaller finches preferred Nyjer® and sunflower chips, and sparrows and other ground-feeding species preferred white proso millet.

The Geographic Regions We Used 
Birds live in geographic regions based more on climate, habitat, food sources, and other factors rather than based on man-made boundaries. For our research project, our volunteer citizen scientists gathered data for us based on the birds in their geographic regions. From this data, we have been able to assembe the bird preference charts and the query tool, both available to you now for free on this website. Here is the map of the geographic regions that we used:

 Map of regions

 

 

 
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