Central Park Bird Count: Many Birds Counted

‘Signs of Spring in Central Park’ – Lara via Flickr

The 124th Christmas Bird Count in Central Park took place on Sunday. The event is part of a larger, continent-wide effort aimed at developing trend data for up to 500 bird species.

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Since 2012, data collected by the National Audubon Society has shown more and more birds moving to the Big Apple due to climate change.

“What the Christmas bird count can show us is that there is a northward march of many of the more southern species,”  Geoff LeBaron of the National Audubon Society told Gothamist. “In early years, they would have been just down south.”

A total of 9,673 birds were observed this year, with 58 different bird species. House sparrows were the most numerous.

American robins, traditionally migratory, are now staying in Central Park year-round, with 550 spotted in the latest count, a significant increase from 97 in 2012.

Notable sightings included a yellow warbler and an increase in red-tailed hawks, attributed to reduced use of rodenticide in city parks.

Hundreds of volunteers participated in this year’s count, which concluded with a gathering at the Arsenal building where volunteers and organizers reported their findings, providing a reality check on the bird populations.

The Christmas Bird Count, dating back to 1900, replaced the tradition of hunting birds and has been consistent in Central Park since its inception.

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.

NYC Audubon


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