Results of the 111th Brooklyn Bird Club Christmas Count

On Saturday, December 14th, 2019, over 90 participants conducted the 111th Brooklyn Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

The count day’s weather allayed days of hand-wringing over a potential soaker with a mild but misty day with highly reduced visibility. In short, we found pleasant surprises among expected shortfalls. Despite a near record-low of 26,834 individuals seen, the above-average species count of 129 is the highest since we set our all-time high of 134 in 2012.

In addition to the eleven long-standing count sectors, Louis Demarco and Bonnie Aldinger resurrected one that had been dormant for seventeen years, the Jamaica Bay Boat. The intrepid duo kayaked to islands in the bay, scanning habitat not visible from the land-based sectors, and pulling out two count “saves” (species seen in only one sector) in the process – American Oystercatcher and Dunlin.

Rare birds (seen 3 or fewer times in the last 10 years) include Redhead, Ring-Necked Duck, American Oystercatcher, Laughing Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Northern Goshawk (last seen in 2007), Eastern Phoebe (all-time high of 4), House Wren, Lapland Longspur, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, and 4 warblers (Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler).

Greater Yellowlegs and Tufted Titmouse were the worst misses, both missed for the first time ever on the count.  Bonaparte’s Gull and Red-breasted Nuthatch rounded out the coulda-beens.

High counts centered around the terrestrial, with all-time highs set with 11 American Woodcock, 240 Northern Cardinals, 93 Carolina Wren (more than double the previous high), 20 Chipping Sparrow, and 4 Common Ravens, who continue to establish themselves as likely breeding regulars in Kings County.

Not surprising on a foggy day, we set all-time lows with waterfowl and gulls, with 14 American Wigeon, 367 Mallard, 509 Greater Scaup, 28 Horned Grebe, 8 Dunlin, 989 Herring Gull, and 14 Great Cormorant.

The ongoing count week species consist of Wilson’s Snipe, Bald Eagle, and Black Skimmer, and White-crowned sparrow.

Many thanks to all the sector leaders and counters, and to Bobbi Manian for coordinating the count teams.  Much gratitude for the Brooklyn Bird Club and Prospect Park Alliance for hosting the count dinner at the Prospect Park Boathouse and Audubon Center.

Special thanks to Rick Cech, who compiled the Brooklyn CBC for 27 years, and developed proprietary software to manage this count and display real-time stats to keep our count dinner attendees entertained through the night (right?).

Mike Yuan and Chris Laskowski

Co-Compilers, Brooklyn CBC