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!   

NYC Audubon organized the Central Park bird count with partners NYC Parks, the Urban Park Rangers, and the Central Park Conservancy. This year, 69 participants counted 5,592 birds of 58 species. Highlights included a boat-tailed grackle in Hallett Nature Sanctuary that later moved to Evodia Field, an ovenbird in the Central Park Zoo, two red-breasted mergansers in the Northwest Section, a white-crowned sparrow at the Pool, a common raven flyover in the Southwest Section, a northern pintail on the Pond (for the second year in a row), and two ring-necked ducks on the Reservoir. Red-breasted merganser was last counted in 1999, while the ovenbird and boat-tailed grackle appear to be firsts for the Central Park count! Check out our finalized tally at the end of this post for a complete list of the species found at this year’s Central Park count.   
Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2017, The Ramble team. Photo: Lynne Hertzog "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2017, The Ramble team. Photo: Lynne Hertzog

This year we had low counts for tufted titmouse (12), white-breasted nuthatch (7), and black-capped chickadee (2), down from 236, 78, and 48 respectively in 2016. Interestingly, only a single individual represented each of these three species in 2013. The Hammond’s flycatcher, which had been observed in the Ramble since late November, unfortunately, did not stick around for the count. During count week (the three days before and after the count), birders in Central Park reported rusty blackbird, orange-crowned warbler, northern waterthrush, pine siskin, red-shouldered hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk.

In addition to Central Park, counts for our circle were held in New Jersey, Randall’s Island, Inwood Hill Park, Riverside Park, Harlem, Bryant Park, Stuyvesant Town, East River Park, Lower Manhattan, and a feeder count in Sunnyside, Queens. We also had counts during count week on Governors Island. Participants in New Jersey reported highlights such as snowy owl, American pipit, snow goose, greater yellowlegs, clay-colored sparrow, Lincoln’s sparrow, and red-shouldered hawk. Governors Island had a count week snowy owl, snow buntings, and American pipit, among others. Final results for the entire NJLH Count Circle will be available soon on our Christmas Bird Count page.

Thank you to those who participated in any of the New York City counts this year, especially those who led and organized counts! 

-Kaitlyn Parkins, Conservation Biologist

Central Park 118th Christmas Bird Count Tally:   

| Canada Goose  | 283
| Wood Duck  | 7
| Gadwall  | 2
| American Black Duck  | 12
| Mallard  | 431
| Northern Shoveler  | 235
| Northern Pintail  | 1
| Ring-necked Duck  | 2
| Bufflehead  | 12
| Hooded Merganser  | 24
| Red-breasted Merganser  | 2
| Ruddy Duck  | 171
| Pied-billed Grebe  | 4
| Great Blue Heron  | 3
| Cooper's Hawk  | 4
| Red-tailed Hawk  | 13
| American Kestrel  | 1
| American Coot  | 7
| American Woodcock  | 1
| Ring-billed Gull  | 484
| Herring Gull  | 230
| Great Black-backed Gull  | 59
| Rock Pigeon  | 1021
| Mourning Dove  | 84
| Red-bellied Woodpecker  | 20
| Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  | 33
| Downy Woodpecker  | 15
| Northern Flicker  | 8
| Blue Jay  | 143
| American Crow  | 33
| Common Raven  | 1
| Black-capped Chickadee  | 2
| Tufted Titmouse  | 12
| White-breasted Nuthatch  | 7
| Brown Creeper  | 1
| Golden-crowned Kinglet  | 4
| Ruby-crowned Kinglet  | 7
| Hermit Thrush  | 4
| American Robin  | 57
| Gray Catbird  | 4
| Northern Mockingbird  | 6
| European Starling  | 532
| Common Yellowthroat  | 1
| Ovenbird  | 1
| Fox Sparrow  | 16
| Dark-eyed Junco  | 40
| White-throated Sparrow  | 361
| Song Sparrow  | 12
| Swamp Sparrow  | 1
| White-crowned Sparrow  | 1
| Northern Cardinal  | 70
| Red-winged Blackbird  | 17
| Common Grackle  | 344
| Boat-tailed Grackle  | 1
| Brown-headed Cowbird*  | 24
| House Finch  | 34
| American Goldfinch  | 36
| House Sparrow  | 1011