Christmas Bird Count

Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Count participants survey the Central Park Lake during the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Photo: Camilla Cerea/National Audubon
Many birdwatchers across the country get to know the Audubon Society through a tradition almost as old as the Society itself: the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. In 1900, early Audubon officer and ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed the first “Christmas Bird Census” as a conservation-minded alternative to the long tradition of the “Christmas Side Hunt”: a competition to shoot as many birds (and mammals) as possible. That first year, 27 Audubon Christmas Bird Counters conducted 25 observational counts across North America, tallying 90 species. 
 
Today, thankfully, the “Christmas Side Hunt” is no more. And the Audubon Christmas Bird Count has grown quite a bit: in 2019, 2,615 counts were conducted by 79,425 observers, tallying 2,638 species across the Americas and the Pacific Islands. What began as an alternative to slaughtering birds has also become a crucial tool to protect them: The over 120 years of data collected by Christmas Bird Count volunteers provides a fundamental way to understand the long-term health of bird populations—and has contributed to several recent impactful reports on bird decline in North America. The Christmas Bird Count is a way that everyone can contribute to scientific knowledge that can help us protect birds. 
 
Christmas Bird Counters are always on the lookout for northern species like the Evening Grosbeak. Christmas Bird Count records of such species allow conservation scientists to document changes in their populations over time. Photo: Bea Binka” "}" data-trix-content-type="undefined" class="attachment attachment--content"> Christmas Bird Counters are always on the lookout for northern species like the Evening Grosbeak. Christmas Bird Count records of such species allow conservation scientists to document changes in their populations over time. Photo: Bea Binka”
 
Every December, NYC Audubon is responsible for reporting data for the Lower Hudson Count Circle, which includes all of Manhattan and parts of New Jersey. And we host Manhattan's Central Park compilation gathering at the Central Park Arsenal each year, a festive event! Separate counts are also coordinated by birding clubs in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
 
 The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is normally held in each of NYC’s boroughs on a Saturday or Sunday in the second half of December. Details and instructions on how to get involved in all five NYC counts will be posted on our Community Science Activities page by November 1 each year. 
 
Read more about the history of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, and see compiled nationwide data, on the National Audubon website.
 
Hooded Mergansers are usually found in at least one of the City’s boroughs during the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Photo: <a href="https://pbase.com/btblue" target="_blank" >Lloyd Spitalnik</a>
Hooded Mergansers are usually found in at least one of the City’s boroughs during the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Photo: Lloyd Spitalnik
Results from Previous Central Park and New Jersey/Lower Hudson Counts