My data collection process went relatively well. I’ve made my observations on the weekends (Saturday & Sunday), over November and December 2015 (16 days in total). I have watched the feeders twice per day: in the morning, from 8:00am to 8:30am, and in the evening, from 6:00pm to 6:30pm. I have counted the number of black-capped chickadees that came to each particular feeder (feeders A, B and C), during those times. Birds that have landed at a feeder, but did not take a piece of food and have used the feeder more as a perch, have been excluded from the count. On the other hand, birds that have gone to a feeder, picked up a piece of food, and have come back subsequently for another, have been counted two (or more) times. The purpose of doing so was for me to determine how many times a bird would actually eat the food offered, not necessarily for me to know how many birds a present only. Therefore, if the birds ate more than once, it got counted more than once, as well.
As previously mentioned, the types of food offered were:
Feeder A: Black-oil sunflower seed
Feeder B: Peanuts (crushed; out of shells)
Feeder C: Mixed seed (mostly red/white milo, cracked corn, wheat, and striped sunflower seed)
I have identified three areas – Area 1, 2 and 3 – at the site, where I have placed the feeder. All areas were approximately 10 meters away from each other. Since two of the areas (area 1 and 3) were located beside trees, I have decided to rotate the feeders (change food types) every weekend (when observations took place) to make sure that it was the food that was preferable and not the location. Some birds might have been more attracted to a location that offered more cover for protection from predators while feeding, therefore, by rotating the feeders at equal time intervals would have allowed me to make sure that it was the type of food that was attractive to birds and not the location.
In addition to count the visits of black-capped chickadees at each feeder, I also took note of the other birds, such as birds of prey and larger birds (i.e. blue jays) that would scare the chickadees away from the feeders. At those times, I have ceased the count since the results would have been biased, and resumed the count when chickadees returned to their normal behavior once hawks and Blue Jays have left.
Further, I have also wrote down the approximate temperature at times of observation (in degrees C), as temperature might influence birds’ feeding preferences. I have also made record of no/any precipitation as it might have influenced birds’ behavior as well.