Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category.

What to Do If You Find a Young or Injured Bird

From time to time, you may come across a young or injured bird that needs assistance. It is important to follow proper steps to make sure you are helping these birds and not further harming them.


American Robin Nestlings © kkmarais / Flickr CC BY 2.0

American Robin Nestlings © kkmarais / Flickr CC BY 2.0

If you find a bird, first determine its age. If the bird is not fully feathered, it is a nestling and needs to be returned to its nest. Contrary to popular belief, birds do not have a well-developed sense of smell, and therefore the parents won’t know if the baby has been touched by humans and will not abandon it. If the nest is intact, put the baby back in and watch from a distance to see if the parents are visiting the nest. If you cannot find or reach the nest, you can put the nestling in a box that has holes poked in the bottom for drainage and suspend the box near where the nest is located.


If the young bird is fully feathered, has a short tail and wings, and is able to hop or take short flights, it is a fledgling and can most likely be left alone. Young birds often leave the nest with weak flight muscles and are fed outside the nest for a few days by their parents. If the bird is in immediate danger (for example, it is on a sidewalk or road), move the bird off to a safer spot like the top of a bush or shrub nearby. Do not return the bird to the nest; it has outgrown its former home and will quickly hop back out. Despite your urge to take in the young bird, its parents are far better at feeding it and teaching it survival skills than any human, and taking in a young bird of a native species is illegal.


American Robin Fledgling © Denise Rosser / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

American Robin Fledgling © Denise Rosser / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0


An adult bird on the ground unable to fly is probably injured. Slowly approach the bird, and if it doesn’t fly away when you’re within 10 feet or so, you can assume something’s wrong. Approach the bird from behind and scoop it up firmly. Carefully put it in a box with a lid or a towel over the top (or better) in an unwaxed paper bag clipped shut. Handle the bird as little as possible and do not force feed it or give it water. Birds go into shock very easily when injured, and often die from the shock. If the bird shows visible signs of injury (unable to flutter wings, bleeding, wings drooping unevenly, weak or shivering), it needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator. You can find a list of rehabilitators in New York City here. If you are unable to take the bird to a rehabilitator yourself, call NYC Audubon at 212-691-7483 to see if someone from our network of volunteers can pick up the bird and transport it.


If a bird has hit a window and is still alive, it may just be stunned and need a little time to regain its senses, after which it may be able to fly away. If there are cats or other predators nearby, place the bird in an enclosed bag or box and keep it in a safe, quiet, dark place. In a few hours, or once you hear the bird begin to flutter around, open the bag or box and place it on the ground to give the bird a chance to fly out. If the bird doesn’t fly away on its own, it needs to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator. Just as important as saving the bird, you can also make a valuable contribution to our Project Safe Flight research and contribute to our understanding of bird collisions in New York City by logging the injured bird on D-Bird, our crowd-sourced bird collision data collection tool, on your smartphone or computer at



Recapping the 119th Annual Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count

On Sunday, December 16, intrepid birders braved heavy winds and pouring rain to participate in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the New Jersey-Lower Hudson (NJLH) count circle. The NJLH count circle is centered in the Hudson River, and its 15-mile radius includes Manhattan, Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey, and a portion of Queens.


Barred Owl in Central Park, November 4, 2018 © Ellen Michaels

The Barred Owl, photographed here in Central Park on November 4, 2018, was one of three owl species counted at the 2018 Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Photo © Ellen Michaels

New York City Audubon organized the 119th annual Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count, along with our partners NYC Parks, the Urban Park Rangers, and the Central Park Conservancy. Undaunted by the weather, 59 participants joined us in the park for this annual community science project, which welcomes birders of all skill levels. Through foggy binoculars, they recorded 5,323 birds of 57 species. Most notable were the three species of owl—Northern Saw-whet, Great Horned, and Barred—all found within fifty yards of each other. The rain also kept the hawks grounded, making it easier to ensure that we did not double-count them.


The much-publicized Mandarin Duck remained in the southeast sector of the park, but as an escaped captive bird, it was not included in the count totals. Only wild birds are counted during Audubon Christmas Bird Counts. Introduced species, such as the House Sparrow, only start to get counted after they have established wild populations. Despite not “counting,” the beautiful Mandarin Duck of Central Park was still a pleasure to see.

Mandarin Duck in Central Park © Ellen Michaels

The Mandarin Duck of Central Park, while beautiful to see, was not eligible to be "counted" at this year's Christmas Bird Count because it is not a wild bird. Photo © Ellen Michaels



Several species often seen at the Central Park count were absent on Sunday but did show up at the park during count week (the three days before and after the count). These birds included Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Purple Finch, House Finch, Ovenbird, and Field Sparrow.


In addition to Central Park, NJLH circle counts were held Sunday at Randall’s Island, Riverside Park, Stuyvesant Town, Inwood Hill Park, John V. Lindsay East River Park, Corlear’s Hook Park, Bryant Park, Tompkins Square Park, Lower Manhattan, and throughout Hudson and Bergen counties. And for the first time ever a Christmas Bird Count was held at Governors Island! The final results for the NJLH count circle will be available on our Audubon Christmas Bird Count Page once all the count tallies have been submitted to us.


A huge thank you to all those who participated in NYC Counts this year, especially those who led and organized counts.


Central Park 119th Audubon Christmas Bird Count Tally:



Number of Birds

Canada Goose


Wood Duck


American Black Duck




Northern Shoveler




Hooded Merganser


Ruddy Duck


Pied-billed Grebe


Double-crested Cormorant


Great Blue Heron


Cooper’s Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk*


Red-tailed Hawk




Peregrine Falcon


American Coot


Ring-billed Gull


Herring Gull


Great Black-backed Gull


Rock Pigeon


Mourning Dove


Great Horned Owl*


Barred Owl*


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


Downy Woodpecker


Northern Flicker


Blue Jay


American Crow


Common Raven


Black-capped Chickadee


Tufted Titmouse


Red-breasted Nuthatch


White-breasted Nuthatch


Brown Creeper


Carolina Wren


Winter Wren


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Hermit Thrush


American Robin


Gray Catbird


Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Cedar Waxwing


Chipping Sparrow*


Fox Sparrow


Dark-eyed Junco


White-throated Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Eastern Towhee


Northern Cardinal


Common Grackle


American Goldfinch


House Sparrow