Posts tagged ‘citizen science’

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!


Northern Pintail on the Pond in Central Park

Northern Pintail on the Pond in Central Park, December 17, 2017

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 Bird Count 2017: The Ramble Team © Lynn Hertzog

Central Park Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2017, The Ramble Team © 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!


Central Park 118th Christmas Bird Count Tally:


Canada Goose


Wood Duck




American Black Duck




Northern Shoveler


Northern Pintail


Ring-necked Duck




Hooded Merganser


Red-breasted Merganser


Ruddy Duck


Pied-billed Grebe


Great Blue Heron


Cooper’s Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel


American Coot


American Woodcock


Ring-billed Gull


Herring Gull


Great Black-backed Gull


Rock Pigeon


Mourning Dove


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


Downy Woodpecker


Northern Flicker


Blue Jay


American Crow


Common Raven


Black-capped Chickadee


Tufted Titmouse


White-breasted Nuthatch


Brown Creeper


Golden-crowned Kinglet


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Hermit Thrush


American Robin


Gray Catbird


Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Common Yellowthroat




Fox Sparrow


Dark-eyed Junco


White-throated Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


White-crowned Sparrow


Northern Cardinal


Red-winged Blackbird


Common Grackle


Boat-tailed Grackle


Brown-headed Cowbird*


House Finch


American Goldfinch


House Sparrow




Getting To Know the Birds of Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Conservation Biologist Debra Kriensky reports on our work planting an “Urban Oasis” in industrial Greenpoint to provide much-needed stopover habitat for migratory birds as well as our citizen science outreach efforts to engage the Greenpoint community and learn more about the birds in the area:


Beginning in 2014, NYC Audubon received a grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF) to install a 0.25-acre native plant garden in McGolrick Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The area surrounding the park is largely urban, industrial, and relatively lacking in green space, making it an important resource for migrating and breeding birds in the area. Our aim was to improve the quality of this stopover habitat by planting a host of native plants that would appeal to not just birds, but to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators as well. We called our garden the “Urban Oasis”.


The Urban Oasis in June, with many native plants in bloom

The Urban Oasis in June, with many native plants in bloom

While we knew it was likely that many birds were migrating through Greenpoint and possibly breeding there, there was very little information about what birds could be found in McGolrick Park when we started planting the Urban Oasis in 2014. A search on the public online database eBird showed no reported bird sightings in the park–and only a handful of sightings in the entire Greenpoint area. In 2015, eleven species were recorded in the park by NYC Audubon and others after we completed the Urban Oasis, but we knew this number did not truly represent the diversity of birds we believed were present.


In 2016, NYC Audubon received an additional grant from GCEF to conduct six citizen science bird surveys throughout the year. The grant’s goal: to increase knowledge about what birds could be found in the park and when, and to encourage local Greenpoint residents to look for and report sightings of birds in the park and the neighborhood in general.


Black-throated green warbler seen in September during fall migration

Black-throated green warbler seen in September during fall migration

We held two citizen science surveys during spring migration, two during the summer breeding season, and two during fall migration. Local residents of Greenpoint were invited to join the surveys, and all results were put on the eBird database. We also held a free nature walk in September for local residents to learn more about the native plants in the Urban Oasis and park, as well as their benefits to wildlife.


All in all, our volunteers observed 34 species throughout the year. 19 of these species had not previously been recorded in the park, such as blackpoll warblers, cedar waxwings, and scarlet tanagers. NYC Audubon staff also took note of any conspicuous insects in the garden and park. Observations included an eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, five-banded tiphiid wasp, common oblique syrphid fly, many common eastern bumble bees, and more.


Fish crow at its McGolrick Park nest in April, 2016

Fish crow at its McGolrick Park nest in April, 2016

In addition to adding our own bird sightings to eBird, we encouraged others to record sightings as well. The eBird database now has 40 species recorded in McGolrick Park, encompassing warblers, sparrows, woodpeckers, raptors, and more–all in this four-acre park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The full McGolrick Park eBird checklist can be viewed here. During our surveys, we got to observe a nesting pair of fish crows in the park on numerous occasions that have apparently been nesting there for several years. We hope locals were inspired to keep birding in the park and logging what they see on eBird, as well as help maintain the Urban Oasis native plant garden for the birds, bees, and butterflies. The results of the surveys are evidence of the importance of green space in urban environments, and proof that birds are all around us if we take the time to look!

A common oblique syrphid fly on a black-eyed susan in the Urban Oasis

A common oblique syrphid fly on a black-eyed susan in the Urban Oasis


Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund


Funding for all events provided by the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.


Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count Results Now Available


Great Horned Owl © Francois Portmann

Great Horned Owl © Francois Portmann

The results from the 116th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count are in! The 2015 Lower Hudson count took place on Sunday, December 20th, a cold but clear day. The Lower Hudson count circle (code: NJLH) includes Manhattan and parts of Hudson and Bergen counties in New Jersey.


With the help of 174 participants, we counted a total of 27,167 birds and 96 species this year. Though a little lower than last year’s numbers (30,641 birds and 111 species), there were still a lot of birds counted, showing that winter can be anything but boring!


Counts took place in Central Park, Inwood, Harlem, Riverside Park, Randall’s Island, Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, Stuyvesant Town & Cove, East River Park, Lower Manhattan, and many locations throughout New Jersey (see map below). We thank all of the count leaders who made this year’s count possible, including a count during “count-week” on Governor’s Island.


For detailed results on this year’s count and results from previous year’s counts, please visit our Audubon Christmas Bird Count page

-Debra Kriensky, Conservation Biologist