Can it be?
Yes, it is.
But how did it get here so quickly?
We don't know, but, yes, it is time again to sign up for one the activities that adds zest to winter in the Chautauqua region - Cornell Lab of Ornithology's annual Project FeederWatch.
The project is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locations.
The survey depends entirely on you and the 50,000 other volunteers who help count the birds. Canadians volunteer for Project FeederWatch through Bird Studies Canada as well, giving scientists a huge winter laboratory from which to track changes in the numbers and distribution of birds across the continent.
As we have noted in the past, you do not have to be an expert birder to participate and it only takes as much time as you decide to give. Once you register, Cornell will send you a bird identification poster and the tally sheets that you'll need. You will count birds at the feeder on the days and at the time of day that you set for yourself from November through early April and then report the results - online or by mail.
This is a great winter activity for families, for people living alone, for youth groups - for anyone who has a place to put up a bird feeder.
The $15 participation fee pays for materials, staff support, web design, data analysis, and the year-end report Winter Bird Highlights. You will get a kit that contains instructions, the bird identification poster, a wall calendar and a resource guide to bird feeding. You also get a subscription to the Lab of Ornithology's newsletter, BirdScope.
You may sign up online or simply get more information at www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/; or by mail at Project FeederWatch, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, P.O. Box 11, Ithaca, NY 14851-0011. Call toll-free to find out about getting a registration form if you are not comfortable transacting business online. The number is: 800-843-2473 during business hours.
The survey starts Nov. 10 this year and runs through the first Friday of April - although you may join at any time of year.
"By watching and keeping track of the birds in your own neighborhood, you really can make a difference," says project leader David Bonter, "The more people watching, the more we can learn about the birds that brighten the winter landscape."