A Smaller (but No Less Robust) Audubon Christmas Bird Count
The 121st Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), a single-day bird census held at thousands of locations across the Western Hemisphere, looked quite different in 2020. To keep everyone safe, National Audubon supported compilers who chose to cancel their counts due to the coronavirus pandemic and provided guidance to those who decided to proceed. In lieu of hosting our large CBC events, our 2020 count involved a smaller number of seasoned volunteers who collected data while wearing masks and remaining socially distanced. While we missed seeing volunteers and enjoying hot soup at the Arsenal after a cold morning of birding, our count’s data did not suffer from the restrictions.
Project Safe Flight Unwrapped: Fall 2020
Despite difficult and uncertain circumstances this fall, Project Safe Flight continued forward in its efforts to study bird collisions throughout our city. This community science project, now in its 24th year, relies on the efforts of volunteers, who wake up at the crack of dawn from the start of September through mid-November to monitor select routes in our city for birds that have collided with buildings. This fall, 28 enterprising volunteers monitored 6 different routes throughout the city and reported 403 bird collisions—more than double the amount found in fall 2019. Learn about other initial findings from the Fall 2020 Project Safe Flight season
Recapping the 2020 Tribute in Light Monitoring
On the 19th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, four beams of light shone into the sky in memorial of those whose lives were tragically lost on that day. Two of those beams were at the Tribute in Light Memorial in New York City, representing the Twin Towers. Two new Tributes also brightened the sky this year: one in Shanksville, PA, memorializing the heroes on board Flight 93, and one at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. In addition to monitoring the tribute in New York City this year, NYC Audubon staff and our colleagues at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology provided resources and advice to the organizations and individuals monitoring the other two sites. The new installations presented us with a valuable research opportunity, as the sites are each unique in terms of location, migration density, and environmental variables. Our hope is to use data collected at all three sites to learn more about the effect of artificial light on bird behavior and how these other factors play a role.
What to Do If You Find an Injured Bird
During spring and fall migration, millions of birds migrate through New York City. Unfortunately many will not survive our city's maze of concrete and glass. NYC Audubon's Project Safe Flight estimates between 90,000-230,000 birds die each year in New York City as a result of colliding with windows. With your help, some window collision victims can survive.
Thank You to Our Community Scientists
February, the third and final month of winter, is often ushered by freezing wind, snow, and bitter cold. On one night this February, the NYC Audubon office was a lively refuge from the cold of February—filled with warmth, drinks, banter and hearty laughter, and spreads upon spreads of meals. But for what occasion? On February 12th of this year, Charles Darwin would have turned 211 years young. In honor of him and his achievements, we invited our community scientists who continue to contribute to scientific advancements to a “Darwin Day” potluck party at our office.
Recapping the 120th Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count
This year, 109 community science volunteers took to the park on December 15th for the 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count and recorded significantly more birds than they did during that inaugural count. They recorded 5,148 birds of 57 species in total. Despite some notable misses such as Black-capped Chickadee (this bird hasn’t been a complete miss on the Central Park Count since at least 1993), both the total number of birds and species falls well within the 20-year average for the park. Highlights included Green-winged Teal (last counted in 2013), Turkey Vulture (last counted 2009), and Red-headed Woodpecker (last counted 2011).
Our 2019 Tribute in Light Bird Monitoring
Each year on the evening of September 11th, New York City Audubon staff, board members, and volunteers make their way to the Battery Parking Garage in lower Manhattan, where 88 high-powered spotlights are assembled on top of its roof to create the Tribute in Light Memorial. Throughout the night our team of community science volunteers keep watch, methodically counting the number of birds in the light beams every 20 minutes from 8 p.m. on September 11th to 6 a.m. on September 12th.
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. 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.
Jamaica Bay Horseshoe Crab Population Monitoring and Tagging 2018 Recap
This summer NYC Audubon reached a milestone—10 years of Horseshoe Crab spawning surveys in Jamaica Bay! During the full and new moons in May and June, NYC Audubon conservation staff and dedicated volunteers ventured out at night to count and tag spawning Horseshoe Crabs, a critical food source for shorebirds like the threatened Red Knot. Nearly 200 community scientists braved the unpredictable weather and late nights to help with monitoring at Jamaica Bay this year, including groups from Patagonia, the Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians, P.S. 9 Teunis G Bergen, and the Trinity School. Our Horseshoe Crab monitoring and tagging efforts are part of a larger project run by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell University Cooperative Extension.
Tribute in Light Monitoring 2018
On September 11, two powerful beams of light once again projected more than four miles into the night sky from Lower Manhattan. Known as the Tribute in Light, this annual light installation beautifully honors the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001. The Tribute is a stirring and fitting reminder of the tragic events of 9/11, but it can also be a hazard for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds that travel through the city under the cover of darkness during their fall migrations. Birds are attracted to light, and can end up trapped in the Tribute’s powerful beams—circling, calling, and wasting precious body fat that fuels their migratory flight.
Recapping the 118th Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count
The 118th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the New Jersey Lower Hudson (NJLH) count circle took place on Sunday, December 17. Our 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. We were treated to a lovely mild winter day—and many interesting sightings!