Breeding Bird Census

American Robin

by D. Speiser

NYC Audubon's Central Park Census 2008 and 1998 
Central Park is an extremely important habitat for migrating birds and also for birds that choose the park as a place to breed. In recognition of Central Park's importance to birds, the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy designated Central Park an Important Bird Area in New York State in 1998, recognizing the significance of its manmade avian habitats, which include meadows, grassy hillocks, rocky crags, woodlands, ravines, streams, ponds, lakes, and a reservoir. To assess the breeding species and their success, NYC Audubon has conducted three evaluations: a partial census of the western side of the park in 1994, and a complete census in 1998 and again in 2008.

How the Census was Conducted
To conduct a complete census the park was divided into 20 blocks; volunteers visited each block eight times between May 24 and July 18, in order to cover early and late breeding species as well as the main June breeding period, and followed the nesting bird census protocol developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Volunteers identified and counted nests, as well as individuals they saw carrying nesting material or feeding young birds.

Central Park 2008 Breeding Bird Census Observations
The "Observed Nest" column is just that: if a nest was seen. "Observed Feeding Young" is if an adult was observed feeding a young bird away from the nest. "Observed Carrying Food" could be a bird with a nest in that zone or just passing through that zone (but most likely breeding in the park).

Common Name

Species Alpha

Observed Nest

Observed Feeding Young

Observed Carrying Food

American Crow

AMCR

American Redstart

AMRE

American Robin

AMRO

YES

YES

YES

Baltimore Oriole

BAOR

YES

YES

YES

Barn Swallow

BASW

YES

Eastern Towhee

EATO

Black-and-White Warbler

BAWW

Black-capped Chickadee

BCCH

YES

Brown-headed Cowbird

BHCO

Blue Jay

BLJA

YES

YES

YES

Brown Thrasher

BRTH

Northern Cardinal

NOCA

Canada Warbler

CAWA

Carolina Wren

CAWR

YES

Cedar Waxwing

CEDW

YES

Chipping Sparrow

CHSP

YES

YES

Chimney Swift

CHSW

Common Grackle

COGR

YES

YES

YES

Common Yellow Throat

COYE

Downy Woodpecker

DOWO

YES

YES

YES

Eastern Kingbird

EAKI

YES

YES

YES

Eastern Wood-Peewee

EAWP

European Starling

EUST

YES

YES

YES

Great Crested Flycatcher

GCFL

Gray-cheeked Thrush

GCTH

Gray Catbird

GRCA

YES

YES

YES

Green Heron

GRHE

Gray Flycatcher

GRFL

Hairy Woodpecker

HAWO

House Finch

HOFI

YES

YES

House Sparrow

HOSP

YES

YES

YES

House Wren

HOWR

YES

YES

YES

Mallard

MALL

YES

Magnolia Warbler

MAWA

Mourning Dove

MODO

YES

YES

Northern Cardinal

NOCA

YES

YES

YES

Northern Flicker

NOFL

YES

YES

Northern Mockingbird

NOMO

YES

Northern Oriole

NOOR

Northern Parula

NOPA

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

NRWS

YES

Orchard Oriole

OROR

Northern Waterthrush

NOWA

Red-bellied Woodpecker

RBWO

YES

YES

YES

Redstart

REST

Red-eyed Vireo

REVI

YES

Red-winged Blackbird

RWBL

YES

Solitary Sandpiper

SOSA

Song Sparrow

SOSP

Swainson's Thrush

SWTH

Tufted Titmouse

TUTI

YES

YES

Veery

VEER

Warbling Vireo

WAVI

YES

White-breasted Nuthatch

WBNU

White-throated Sparrow

WHSP

Wild Turkey

WITU

Wood Thrush

WOTH

YES

YES

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

YBCU

Yellow Warbler

YWAR

Yellow-shafted Flicker

YSFL

Some interesting changes occurred in the ten years between the complete censuses. Although there were changes in the composition of species breeding in the park between the two years, the overall number of species and pairs observed remained quite stable.

Common Grackle

by D. Speiser

Twenty-eight native bird species were observed breeding in Central Park in both 1998 and 2008. Six species were confirmed as breeding in Central Park in 1998 that were not seen in 2008: common yellowthroat, fish crow, great crested flycatcher, mute swan, rough-winged swallow and song sparrow. However, six species were confirmed breeders in Central Park in 2008 that were not recorded in 1998: barn swallow, black-capped chickadee, Carolina wren, chipping sparrow, eastern wood-pewee and green heron.

Blue Jay

by D. Speiser

The most common breeding bird in both years was the American robin, with 205 pairs in 1998 and 193 pairs in 2008. Common grackles were the second most common in 1998, as were blue jays in 2008. The total confirmed number of breeding pairs was very similar in 1998 and 2008: there were 358 pairs in 1998 and 349 pairs in 2008 (excluding robins, the number was even closer: 153 pairs in 1998 and 156 pairs in 2008).
We are in the process of reexamining the IBAs in New York City in conjunction with Audubon New York and this data will help inform the process.

Click here for 2008 Observations
Click here for the full 1998 Central Park Census Report

NYC Audubon's Van Cortlandt Park Census
Just as in Central Park, the American robin was the most numerous and widespread of native species with 49 breeding territories confirmed. The species was recorded in all five sections of the park. Unlike Central Park, the gray catbird was second most numerous with 27 confirmed territories. The red-winged blackbird, although only present in two sections, consisted of 19 breeding territories. The Baltimore oriole, present in all five sections, had 18 breeding territories recorded.

To read more about the 2006 breeding birds of Van Cortlandt, click here

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