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 (NJ-LH) count circle. The NJ-LH 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.

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.
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 "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> 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:   

 | Canada Goose | 366
 | Wood Duck | 7
 | American Black Duck | 1
 | Mallard | 289
 | Northern Shoveler | 84
 | Bufflehead | 20
 | Hooded Merganser | 10
 | Ruddy Duck | 142
 | Pied-billed Grebe | 1
 | Double-crested Cormorant | 2
 | Great Blue Heron | 3
 | Cooper's Hawk | 5
 | Red-shouldered Hawk* | 2
 | Red-tailed Hawk | 13
 | Merlin* | 1
 | Peregrine Falcon | 1
 | American Coot | 9
 | Ring-billed Gull | 89
 | Herring Gull | 104
 | Great Black-backed Gull | 4
 | Rock Pigeon | 635
 | Mourning Dove | 67
 | Great Horned Owl* | 1
 | Barred Owl* | 1
 | Northern Saw-whet Owl | 2
 | Red-bellied Woodpecker | 44
 | Yellow-bellied Sapsucker | 5
 | Downy Woodpecker | 6
 | Northern Flicker | 3
 | Blue Jay | 265
 | American Crow | 10
 | Common Raven | 2
 | Black-capped Chickadee | 9
 | Tufted Titmouse | 247
 | Red-breasted Nuthatch | 2
 | White-breasted Nuthatch | 50
 | Brown Creeper | 2
 | Carolina Wren | 1
 | Winter Wren | 2
 | Ruby-crowned Kinglet | 1
 | Hermit Thrush | 11
 | American Robin | 180
 | Gray Catbird | 2
 | Northern Mockingbird | 5
 | European Starling | 167
 | Cedar Waxwing | 2
 | Chipping Sparrow* | 1
 | Fox Sparrow | 5
 | Dark-eyed Junco | 33
 | White-throated Sparrow | 1017
 | Song Sparrow | 12
 | Swamp Sparrow | 1
 | Eastern Towhee | 5
 | Northern Cardinal | 59
 | Common Grackle | 861
 | American Goldfinch | 17
 | House Sparrow | 437