Project FeederWatch Needs You!

August 10, 2006 @ 12:01 pm | Filed under:

Just saw this in the latest Project FeederWatch newsletter:

Citizen Scientists Needed for Acorn Study

Did you know that Blue Jays help oak trees spread by moving acorns?

You can help researchers investigate variation in the size of bur oak acorns and learn more about the distribution of this tree species. Like many North American tree species, bur oaks have moved northward following the end of the last ice age. The goal of the study is to determine the degree to which acorn size has been influenced by the primary dispersal agent of bur oaks—blue jays, which prefer small acorns, or whether size is primarily determined by environmental factors such as day length and the length of the growing season.

What will citizen scientists provide?

Volunteers will collect a sample of 25-35 mature bur oak acorns: 5 – 7 from each of 5 different bur oak trees located reasonably close to where you live. All you need in order to participate is access to 5 bur oak trees! Trees growing on their own in parks or forests are preferred, but trees in landscaped areas are acceptable as long as they are not watered regularly.

How can I participate?

The project coordinator will provide participants with all necessary materials, including information on how to identify bur oaks and a postage-paid envelope for sending collected acorns. The study is being conducted by Walt Koenig, Research Zoologist, University of California, Berkeley, and Jean Knops, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Who can participate?

U.S. residents living within the bur oak’s range are invited to participate. Bur oaks primarily grow in the following states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska (eastern), Kansas (eastern), Oklahoma, Texas (part), Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas (northern), Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan (southern), Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York (parts), Maine (parts), and Pennsylvania (parts). If you live in these areas and are interested in participating, please contact Dr. Koenig at

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One Reponse | Comments Feed
  1. Dana says:

    I’m excited to find someone else supporting FeederWatch. I did the birding program a long time ago (I think it was with them…but that was back in high school). I’m planning on doing it again this winter…I’ll have to think about the acorns. It sounds interesting.