Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2021 Recap

This Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, photographed at the Union Square Park count, was one of thirty-two counted within the New Jersey Lower Hudson count circle as part of the 122nd Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Photo: Michelle Zorzi

Aurora Crooks   |  February 1, 2022

This December, NYC Bird Alliance was happy to once again coordinate data compilation for the New Jersey Lower Hudson (NJLH) count circle as part of the 122nd Annual Christmas Bird Count. This long-standing community science project aims to take a snapshot of the populations of every bird species found around the world in a single day. 

While no small task to achieve, every year thousands of birders both experienced and new participate between December 14 and January 5 to count every bird they can find as part of this annual tradition, which was started on December 25, 1900, by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman. The information gathered is compiled and put into an online database maintained by the National Audubon Society to inform a general idea of bird populations annually and population trends

This year, on a chilly Sunday morning, over 170 community scientists took to parks and green spaces in the New Jersey Lower Hudson area on Sunday, December 19 for the count, spreading out over a 15-mile radius. Counts taking place in this circle this year included Randall's Island, Riverside Park, Central Park, Inwood Hill Park, Stuyvesant Town & Cove, Carl Schurz Park, East River Park, Hudson Yards, Madison Square Park, Roosevelt Island, Bryant Park, Washington Square Park, Stuyvesant Town & Cove, Union Square Park, Morningside Park, Lower Manhattan, and throughout Hudson and Bergen Counties (New Jersey).

Reports from volunteers in Central Park and elsewhere in the Manhattan portion of the circle indicated it was a “distinctly un-birdy” day, though the New Jersey teams seemed to have better luck! In total, volunteers from all over the NJLH count circle recorded 27,269 birds and 98 different species, which is only slightly fewer species than normal (and still higher than our most recent low count of 95 species in 2018). In Central Park, we spotted 51 species and 4,325 birds in total, which is 2,032 birds less than what we had spotted previously in Central Park in December of 2020. 

Despite the low counts for some species, we had ample counts of our common birds: European Starling, Ring-billed Gull, White-throated Sparrow, Brant, and Mourning Dove. The New Jersey team had high counts of both Bald Eagle and Common Raven. Some more rare species also made appearances: In Manhattan one of two Western Tanagers that had been present earlier in the count week showed itself on count day. In New Jersey, two Sandhill Cranes were the highlight, and a county record for Hudson County.

We send a huge thank you to all those who participated in the count this year, especially to our count leaders in every circle. If you are curious about how your favorite bird’s population has been trending the past few decades, be sure to check out National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count Trend Viewer Tool!

Interested in taking a deeper dive into all the birds we found this year? View the final results of the 122nd Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Central Park and the entire New Jersey Lower Hudson as PDFs below:

-Aurora Crooks, Community Science Program Manager

Please note: An earlier version of this post did not include Governors Island count data. The total number of birds seen in the NJLH count circle this year was 27,637 birds total, not 27,269. The NJLH Christmas Bird Count 2021 Results PDF has also been updated to include numbers from Governors Island.