Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Count Summary

Herring Gull - most numerous species counted - [source: Wikipedia]

A summary of the final results of the 1912 Christmas Count
from Susan Elbin at the New York City Audubon:

The Central Park CBC was held on Sunday, Dec. 16.

The total number of species on our count this year was 56. (compared to 53 in 2011). We had a total of 5,721 individual birds. (compared to 3,288 in 2011). These results are only for the count day and do not include count week.

The highlights were:
Species                            #

Wood Duck-6
Black Duck-4
Northern Shoveler-28
Hooded Merganser-8
Ruddy Duck-55
Pied-billed Grebe-1
Double-crested Cormorant-2
Great Blue Heron-1
Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
Cooper's Hawk-3
Red-tailed Hawk-11
American Coot-9
Ring-billed Gull-267
Herring Gull-1168
Great Black-backed Gull-51
Mourning Dove-39
Red-bellied Woodpecker-60
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-12
Downy Woodpecker-29
Hairy Woodpecker-3
Northern Flicker-8
Blue Jay-190
American Crow-34
Black-capped Chickadee-53
Tufted Titmouse-389 
White-breasted Nuthatch-62
Brown Creeper-3
Carolina Wren-5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1
Hermit Thrush-11
American Robin-97
Gray Catbird-1
Northern Mockingbird-7
Cedar Waxwing-34
Eastern Towhee-3
Fox Sparrow-3
Song Sparrow-8
Swamp Sparrow-1
White-throated Sparrow-674
Dark-eyed Junco-22
Northern Cardinal-71
Common Grackle-190
House Finch-9
Pine Siskin-3
American Goldfinch-22

Unusual sightings were:
Barred Owl-1
Common Redpoll-2
White-winged Crossbill-


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Count Results

[Click on link at the end of to this page get a list of birds seen at the latest Central Park Christmas Count, held on 12/16/12]

                                                   Tufted Titmouse

A press release from N YC Audubon :

Audubon Annual Count in Central Park Finds 5,721 Birds 

New York, NY – December 19, 2012 –Seventy-three intrepid volunteers spent last Sunday morning counting birds in New York City’s Central Park, where the 113th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count  began on December 25, 1900. There, as elsewhere across the country, evidence emerged of this year’s massive southward irruption of hungry seed-eating birdsfrom Canada’s boreal forests, where cone crops failed this year. Data from decades of counts are used to interpret such events and to distinguish annual variations like this year’s irruption from long-term trends, like the clear, long-term northward shift in the winter ranges of dozens of species due to climate change.

According to John Rowden, Associate Director for Citizen Science for NYC Audubon,”2012 witnessed higher numbers than seen in 2011, and there were a number of unusual species seen this year, possibly as a result of irruptions from the north. Notable species included 2 Common Redpolls and 4 White-winged Crossbills.  Also, we had a lot of Tufted Titmice, double the number counted last year. They made it onto our list of top 10 most abundant species.” Central Park is a vital oasis for birds along the Atlantic Flyway, and total number of species can reach 275 during spring migration. Like Prospect Park in Brooklyn, another CBC count site, it is one of Audubon’s Important Bird Areas designated to protect habitat for birds and other wildlife.  Birds are early indicators of environmental problems.

“This is not just about counting birds,” says Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist. “Data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count are at the heart of hundreds peer-reviewed scientific studies and inform decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.”

The longest running wildlife survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) has continued through World Wars I and II and The Great Depression.  The holiday tradition began when ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed that people “hunt” birds only to count them.  Dr. Chapman’s initiative came during a time when birds were being slaughtered for fashionable hats.    Now the greatest threats to birds include sprawl, development, loss of wetlands and climate change.

The count is undergoing several significant changes this year as Audubon builds on the program’s success to entice birdwatchers to lend their eyes and ears year round. Fees to participate in the count have been dropped to encourage greater participation, and the annual published report, American Birds, will go digital in 2013, saving more trees for the birds. Christmas Bird Count information is available online in Spanish for the first time. And in 2013, Audubon will begin to extend conservation-focused observation efforts throughout the seasons.     

“We’re dropping fees, adding languages, going digital, and taking citizen science year-round,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “The Audubon Christmas Bird Count harnesses volunteer power to gather knowledge that shapes conservation policy at enormous scales in this country. I couldn’t be prouder of the 60,000-plus volunteers who contribute each year: This is the largest, longest-running animal census on the planet, and we’re all proud to be a part of the CBC. And with the elimination of fees, we're looking forward to even more people having a role in this adventure.”
More about the Central Park Count in Audubon magazine
The count continues until January 5.  To find a count near you 

To see the full list of birds by species for Central Park

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crossbill on Sweetgum in The Ramble

White-winged Crossbill in The Ramble -- 12/15/12 - photo by Ed Gaillard

Ed Gaillard reports [via NYSbirds-l] on yesterday's crossbill encounter:

Spent a pleasant afternoon in Central Park Saturday.  Highlight of the day was White-Winged Crossbills high in the sweetgums just south of the Humming Tombstone area in the Ramble.  They were hard to identify, being mixed with Goldfinches and quite high up, but I got at least one photo showing the distinctive bill silhoutte, plus when they flew out, other birders present recognized the flight calls.