Project FeederWatch is a project administered by the Cornell Ornithology Lab and Bird Studies Canada. Project FeederWatch collects data from backyard bird observers across the United States and Canada. The data is used for a variety of purposes including providing the public with information about the birds that can be found in their areas at various times during the year. The Project FeederWatch map room allows you to select a species and see its migration pattern mapped over the course of a year. There are data sets available for the current year as well as past years.
eBird is a website run by the Cornell Ornithology Lab that provides more maps, graphs, and charts along the same lines as those found on Project FeederWatch. eBird has maps of the global distribution of birds (Project FeederWatch is limited to North America) and charts of seasonal distributions of birds. eBird also has a bird tracker map set-up just for birds affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Applications for Education
Project FeederWatch and eBird are both good examples of using maps to display data. Placing the data sets on maps gives students a visual reference that means more than simply studying a list of which birds appear in which states.
Teachers could use the migration information available from Project FeederWatch and eBird to develop a simple lesson in statistical analysis and predictions. You could have students look at the migration data for a bird that appears in their area and try to predict when the first one of those birds will be spotted outside of your classroom windows.