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Christmas Bird Counts: LONG ISLAND (1923) and the BRONX (1933):

Cedar Waxwing (NYBG-Bx) 20 December 2023 Deborah Allen

21 December 2023

Bird Notes: Sunday walks at 9:30am (Central Park) continue...but keep an eye on the weather for Wednesday, 27 December: the walk at NYBG in the Bronx (10am) may be in doubt. Rain is forecast for next Tue/Wed/Thu (26-28 Dec.). If we cancel due to weather, we will post that info on the Schedule Page (click) of our web site. NYBG is free admission all day on Wednesdays so we would be sad to miss out on a good deal!

In our HISTORICAL NOTES we send the results of the late December 1923 LONG ISLAND and the 1933 BRONX Christmas Bird Count that was published in Bird-Lore. In Historical Note (A) from the far east of Long Island (Montauk Point) to western Long Island (Douglaston, Queens), there were some notable observations in late December 1923: Eastern Meadowlarks (more than 25) appear on six of the eight LI counts...these days seeing up to five Meadowlarks would be noteworthy (grassland habitats and nesting species have declined markedly in 100 years); Canada Geese on only one count (far Eastern LI) - these waterfowl were hunted extensively into the 1940s; the low number of diurnal raptors: Marsh Hawk (Northern Harrier) and American Kestrel were the most widespread...Red-shouldered Hawk was seen on one count...and no one saw a Red-tailed Hawk on any of the Long Island counts. For owls, Short-eared Owl was the most widespread/common nocturnal raptor (again grassland habitats were more common then), with NO mention of any other large owl (but a Northern Saw-whet Owl during count week). These days Great Horned Owls are common nesters on LI (a woodland species), and Eastern Screech-owls also breed in Nassau/Suffolk (and Queens) Counties. For the owls, it might be that people did not go out at night to look, and/or did not know where to to 1933 Bronx Count below. Finally, the low numbers of species and individuals seen: these days several LI CBC annually count 120-135 species...none of the 1923 LI counts had more than 40 species that year...this points to a lack of coverage and experienced/rigorous observers.

Historical Note (B) is the 1933 CBC from the Bronx, some 90 years ago. This is a good example of experienced/rigorous birders at work. Most of the counters were from the Bronx County Bird Club who went on to be the first era of professional birders in North America including Allan Cruickshank, Richard Herbert, Joseph Hickey, with Ernst Mayer, the foremost evolutionary biologist of his time, a senior advisor to the group. Dr. Mayer had recently come to the American Museum from Harvard....anyway, six owl species were logged that day (probably from scouting out known locations of owls during the previous several weeks); 80 Bobwhite Quail (they still bred in NYC at Pelham Bay Park in the Bx) compared to only 30 Ring-necked Pheasants (no extirpated once the coyote took up residence in the Bx in the late 1990s). Also of note: 92 Yellow-rumped Warblers (to see five today would be a lot); 52 Eastern Meadowlarks; 5 Pine Grosbeaks (wow! unheard of today in our area); 19 Eastern Bluebirds; 1300+ American Tree Sparrows (today 10 would be a lot!); 400+ Black-capped Chickadees; 1000+ White-winged Scoters (25 would be a lot today); BUT only 2 Fox Sparrows (more these days); 5 Tufted Titmice (low compared to today); and 5 American Robins. My take on all this: more birds (and wild habitat) back then in 1933...and look what motivated observers who know an area can find in a single day. There is also some indication of a cooler climate (absence of American Robins), or this could simply be that not as many crab-apples and/or hawthorns had been planted back then....

Pied-billed Grebe Van Cortlandt Park (Bx) 19 December 2023 Deborah Allen

Bird Walks: 24 December (2023) to 7 January (2024)

All Walks @ $10/person

*For all our walks: no need to book ahead or pay in advance - just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us. Binoculars can be rented for $10 - let us know in advance if possible (one day's notice is fine).

1. Sunday, 24 December at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by DEBORAH and BOB (just back from Tanzania)


2. Wednesday, 27 December at 10:00. The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx. Meet at the CLOCKTOWER which is 50 yards past the main entrance (the main entrance is NOT the Mosholu Gate). $10. Directions to NYBG: CLICK HERE. NYBG is open free to everyone on Wednesdays. Contact Bob/Deb via email ( for info/directions/help etc.


3. Sunday, 31 December at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by DEBORAH and BOB


5. Sunday, 7 January 2024 at 9:30am [ONLY!]. Meet at the the BOATHOUSE Restaurant/Cafe at approx. 74th st. and the East Drive. $10. Directions to the Boathouse: CLICK HERE. This walk led by DEBORAH and BOB


Call (718-828-8262) or Email us with questions:

Keep an eye on the Schedule as we might be adding a few walks here and there such as the New York Botanical Garden (Bronx - free admission on Wednesdays), and perhaps an Owl walk at night. Any questions send them our way: or call: 718-828-8262 (home)

Ash-throated Flycatcher (western USA species) Bleecker Park (Manhattan) 12 December 2023 Deborah Allen

(below) Cassin's Kingbird (western USA species) in Brooklyn on 27 December 2014 Deborah Allen

The fine print: No need to reserve or pay in advance for our bird walks. Just show up at the right time and place and away you go with us. Please pay us at the end of the walk when we reach either Fifth Avenue or Central Park West, and not in the park as we begin.

Our walks on weekends meet on Sundays at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. The meeting location is NOT nearby Conservatory Water with its small buildings and Boathouse for model boats...people make this mistake all the time! Here are directions to the Meeting Locations (CLICK HERE) page of our web site. Bathrooms open at about 7:45am at the Boathouse. The outdoor restaurant opens by about 8:00am, but do note that the prices have been raised considerably (think $6 for a cup of coffee), and the quality of the food has declined, but is still edible. The indoor area is still not open so be prepared to freeze while you drink your expensive (lousy) coffee.

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is ( If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient. If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not on the morning of the walk: check the "Schedule" page of our web site - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk. Walks last about 3 hrs (a bit less if cold or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we aim to please. We usually end Central Park walks at about noon at the Boathouse where we started.

Hermit Thrush in Madison Square Park (Manhattan - 23rd street) 20 December 2023 Dan Bright

Here is what we saw recently (brief highlights)

Sunday, 17 December 2023: Today was the annual Christmas Count - we did our own, and the significant species we found, that no other group/person observed, were: Northern Harrier flyover (seen by Andrea Hessel MD); Eastern Towhee (male in Shakespeare Garden); and Rusty Blackbird female (found by Sandra Critelli on the Great Lawn). Otherwise there were the usual suspects on this windy day - a few Red-tailed Hawks (about 4); a flock of approx 20 American Robins that kept flying back and forth over the Great Lawn and Shakespeare Garden area; Cooper's Hawk (2) and certainly no Sharp-shinned Hawks (rare these days after 10 November in NYC); Carolina Wrens, and American Goldfinch or two (seed eating birds are uncommon this autumn/winter); even the number of Cardinals seemed fewer than back in November...All of us are hoping that a few Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice make it here for part of the winter - at least then we could have birds eating from our hands. As for owls - just Flaco the escaped Eurasian Eagle-owl - but nothing more than that...the first year in many that we don't have a wintering Great Horned Owl or Barred Owl. All of these missing birds suggest that we are in a mild (El Nino) winter...

Deborah's List of Birds for Sunday, 17 December: CLICK HERE 

Wednesday, 20 December 2023 at the NY Botanical Garden (Bronx): It was so slow today we did not bother writing up a bird list. That being said, we did have some unusual sightings: an American Wigeon (Baldpate) on one of the Twin Lakes at the north end of NYBG - we have never seen one here before, and in the last 5-7 years have become rather uncommon in Bronx and Manhattan Parks - we can still remember seeing 10-20 (including a Eurasian Wigeon) in winter in Pelham Bay Park (Bx) in the 2005-2015 time frame. The other good bird was a female Belted Kingfisher found by Alexandra Wang also on the Twin Lakes. Absent were Wood Ducks (usually common) and Hooded Mergansers on the Bronx River. In the woods, 4 Cedar Waxwings were feeding on crab-apples along with lots of American Robins. In most winters, we can find 5-10 overwintering Red-breasted Nuthatches feeding on the extensive seeds of conifers throughout only two a new low. Similarly no Rusty Blackbirds - usually 4-6 and in good years 20-25. We could not find any Great Horned Owls in the old Hemlock Forest, probably because 95% of the hemlocks are gone...nothing to hide in. These owls breed here, perhaps the upcoming Bronx Christmas Count will find them. Finally...just a few American Goldfinches and a handful of House Finches (<5)...despite the number of Sweetgum trees here that have exactly the seeds these birds love. And Black-capped Chickadees? Wow in the recent past 20-25 at least taking seeds often and happily from one's hands. Today = Zero (but 4 Tufted Titmice).

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Central Park 31 October 2023 David Barrett

(below) Golden-crowned Kinglet Central Park 17 December 2023 Sandra Critelli


LONG ISLAND: Bird-Lore’s Twenty-fourth Christmas Census December 1923 - LONG ISLAND

Edited by J. T. NICHOLS


The highest number of species recorded in this Census in Canada is 22 at London, Ont., a combined list of six parties working separately. In the Northern and Middle Atlantic States, Cape May, N. J., leads with 48 (several observers); comparable in the northern Mississippi Valley with 32 at Norwood, Ohio (or a combined total of 39 by the Wheaton Club, Columbus, Ohio). Nashville, Tenn., has 51, Anniston, Ala., 41 (one observer), and Back Bay, Va. (three observers, one working independently) 90, which is exceeded only by Santa Barbara with 93 and San Diego, Calif., with 106 (two and three observers, together). We would call attention to the value of the Census for statistical study of local fluctuations in the numbers of winter birds, which may come to the attention of observers. In all reports from Long Island and New York City the White-throated Sparrow averaged 2.86 individuals and was present on 57% of the reports; as against 8.47 and 60% in 1922. Was the supply of White-throats (ordinarily present here) to the north, to the south, or absent? For Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, the same figures in 1923 were 48% and 15%; and in 1922, 80% and 20%. In the states from Maryland to Georgia, however, we find 18.78 and 67%; 6.15 and 69% for 1922, an increase in numbers with almost the same frequency. Carrying the study westward, compared with last year, the numbers have fallen to 4.33 from 8.39 in Pennsylvania, and have risen to 231 from 130.5 in Kentucky and Tennessee (only two reports).


East Marion, L.I., N.Y. 26 December 1923; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Clear; blustering, wind northwest, strong, almost cleared bay of water-fowl; ground bare; temp. 37F at start, 41F at return. About 4 miles on foot. Horned Grebe, 18; Loon, 1; Herring Gull, 40+; Old-squaw [Long-tailed Duck], 4; White-winged Scoter, 2; Belted Kingfisher, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 2; Northern Flicker, 1; Blue Jay, 2; Crow, 50+; Starling, 10; Eastern Meadowlark, 1; Song Sparrow, 5; Myrtle Warbler, 20; White-breasted Nuthatch, 3; Black-capped Chickadee, 14; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 4; Robin, 2. Total, 18 species, 180+ individuals. A Palm Warbler seen December 25 and recorded before on 21st and 2 on the 20th.




Garden City, L.I, N.Y. 23 December 1923; at intervals all day—between 5 and 6 hours in the field. Overcast, a drizzle ceased shortly after daylight, rain commenced again shortly before dusk; ground bare, grass green in places; wind light, northeast; temp. 44F to 46F. Village of Garden City and adjoining fields. Herring Gull, 14 (flying over); Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 2; Hairy Woodpecker, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 3; Horned Lark, 30 (1 flock); American Crow, 100; Fish Crow, 20; Starling, 75; Vesper Sparrow, 2; American Tree Sparrow, 10; Field Sparrow, 1; Dark-eyed Junco, 10; Song Sparrow, 5; Black-capped Chickadee, 5; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 5. Total, 15 species, 253 individuals. Also House Sparrow, 50. The Vesper Sparrows, associated with Song Sparrows, etc., studied as long as desired, fine blurred streaking on head, white outer tail-feathers, and other points noted. A Robin on Dec. 25.


J. T. Nichols


Long Beach, L.I., N.Y. 23 December 1923; 7.30 A.M. to 2 P.M. Overcast; light wind. Horned Grebe, 2; Great Black-backed Gull, 75; Herring Gull, 3,000; Old-squaw [Long-tailed Duck], 4; White-winged Scoter, 50; Horned Lark, 6; Crow, 100; Eastern Meadowlark, 1; Starling, 75; Savannah Sparrow, 3; White-throated Sparrow, 2; American Tree Sparrow, 4; Myrtle [Yellow-rumped] Warbler, 20. Total, 13 species, 3,342 individuals.




Long Beach, L.I., N.Y. 26 December 1923; 9.30 A.M. to 4 P.M. Fair; fresh, northwest wind; temp. 33F to 40F; no snow or ice. Dandelions freely in bloom. Horned Grebe, 1; Kittiwake, 1 (on wet sand flat, closely observed; yellow bill, black legs and feet and, in flight, black, straight across wing-tips, all clearly seen); Great Black-backed Gull, not very many; Herring Gull, thousands; Ring-billed Gull, 3 or more; White-winged Scoter, 1; Black Duck, flock of 1,000+ (smaller flocks off shore; flocks of 50 to 60 inland); Brant (7), 50 (flock very far out); Marsh Hawk, 1; Horned Lark, several small flocks; Crow, common; Starling, several flocks up to 100; Eastern Meadowlark, 2; Snow Bunting, large flocks on the links, probably 150 to 200; Savannah Sparrow, 2; Song Sparrow, 1; Myrtle [Yellow-rumped] Warbler, many. Total, 17 species. At Hewlett, 3 miles inland from Long Beach, 8 a.m. Golden-crowned Kinglet, 6 (flock); Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2; Black-capped Chickadee, 1; also, on the 25th, Saw-whet Owl, 1.




Long Beach, L.I., N.Y. 24 December 1923. 9.45 A.M. to 4.15 P.M. Light snow in morning, clear in afternoon; brisk wind from north; average temp. 40F. Six miles along beach on foot, and back. Observers together. Horned Grebe, 1; Great Black-backed Gull, 20; Herring Gull, 1,500; Bonaparte’s Gull, 3; Black Duck, 2; White-winged Scoter, 75; Surf Scoter, 1 (a female found dead on beach); American Scoter, 25 (at least 500 more Scoters were seen, but were too far out to identify); Marsh Hawk, 1; Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 1; Short-eared Owl, 3; Horned Lark, 35; Crow, 30; Starling, 100; Eastern Meadowlark, 2; Snow Bunting, 75; Song Sparrow, 2; Myrtle [Yellow-rumped] Warbler, 10. Total, 18 species, 227 individuals.




Montauk to Montauk Point, L.I., N.Y. 23 December 1923; all day. Overcast; light northeast wind, but visibility excellent; ground very wet from hard rain; no frost or ice; temp. 45F. Observers together. Horned Grebe, 3; Loon, 50; Red-throated Loon, 1; Razor-billed Auk, 1 (oil-soaked and freshly eaten by some animal, apparently last night); Iceland Gull, 1 (2d year); Great Black-backed Gull, 20; Herring Gull, 500; Ring-billed Gull, 2; Bonaparte’s Gull, 100; Gannet, 8; Double-crested Cormorant, 2; American Merganser, 30; Red-breasted Merganser, 250; Black Duck, 20; Baldpate, 1; Scaup, 75; Whistler, 45; Bufflehead, 5; Old-squaw [Long-tailed Duck], 200; American Scoter, 5; White-winged Scoter, 1,500; Surf Scoter, 500; Canada Goose, 250; Coot, 75; Marsh Hawk, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 2; Northern Flicker, 2; Horned Lark, 25; Blue Jay, 5; Crow, 15; Starling, 250; Eastern Meadowlark, 18; Pine Siskin, 1; Snowflake [Snow Bunting], 4; American Tree Sparrow, 3; Song Sparrow, 3; Myrtle [Yellow-rumped] Warbler, 25; White-breasted Nuthatch, 2; Black-capped Chickadee, 4; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 2. Total, 40 species, 3,996 individuals. Both water- and land-birds much scarcer individually than normal.




Sands Point, L.I., N.Y. (and vicinity). 25 December 1923; 12.20 to 1.40 and 3.25 to 4.35 P.M. Cloudy; ground bare; wind west, moderate; temp. approximately 45F. About 6 miles on foot. Herring Gull, about 300; American Golden-eye, 5; White-winged Scoter, 1; Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 1; Belted Kingfisher, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 2; Northern Flicker, 1; Crow, 10; Horned Lark, 8 (1 flock); American Tree Sparrow, 5; Song Sparrow, 1; White-throated Sparrow, 1; Myrtle [Yellow-rumped] Warbler, 1. Total, 13 species, about 328 individuals.




Douglaston [Queens], L.I., N.Y. 25 December 1923. 10 A.M. to 1 P.M., and 2.30 to 4 P.M. Cloudy; ground bare; wind southwest, light; temp. 34F at start, 38F at return. Herring Gull, 55; Black-crowned Night Heron, 12; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 7; Northern Flicker, 6; Blue Jay, 2; Crow, 18; Fish Crow, 4; Starling, 36; Eastern Meadowlark, 7; Goldfinch, 24; White-throated Sparrow, 7; American Tree Sparrow, 32; Junco, 2; Song Sparrow, 16; Brown Creeper, 1; White-breasted Nuthatch, 5; Black-capped Chickadee, 9. Total, 18 species, 244 individuals. On 28 December, a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drilling holes in bark and apparently drinking sap of an apple tree. Close range at intervals for more than an hour.




Pine Grosbeak (male) near Duluth, Minnesota on 14 January 2019  Deborah Allen

1923: Bronx Region, N.Y. (area from Rye Beach and part of Piermont Marshes (west of Hudson) south to Baxter Marshes, all points within 15 miles of each other). 24 December 1933; 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. Fair visibility inland all day, absolute zero visibility all day over northern waters and for 6 daylight hours along southern shore points; wind southeast at start (velocity 4 miles), south at finish (velocity 18 miles); temp 38F to 53F. Seven parties working mostly in pairs with best single-party lists of 52 and 50 within boundaries of New York City. Horned Grebe, 1; Great Blue Heron, 4; Black-crowned Night Heron, 70; Canada Goose, 3; Common Mallard, 6; Red-legged and Common Black Duck, 1100 (est.); Baldpate [American Wigeon], 11; American Pintail, 7; Green-winged Teal, 3; Wood Duck, 23; Greater Scaup, 750 (est.); American Golden-eye, 71; Oldsquaw [Long-tailed Duck] heard; Scoter, many (3 definitely White-winged); Ruddy Duck, 1; Hooded Merganser, 6; American [Common] Merganser, 44; Red-breasted Merganser, 1; Cooper’s Hawk, 1; Eastern Red-tailed Hawk, 2; Northern Red-shouldered Hawk, 4; Broad-winged Hawk, 1 (small, exceedingly tame, critically maimed Buteo, carefully checked since Dec. 7, directly compared to immature Red-shoulders; solid white under-wing parts noted along with absence of translucent wing-spots and rusty on shoulders—A. D. Cruickshank); American Rough-legged Hawk, 1; Duck Hawk [Peregrine Falcon], 1; Eastern Sparrow Hawk [American Kestrel], 14; Eastern Bob-white Quail, 80; Ring-necked Pheasant, 30; King Rail, 2; Killdeer, 8; American Woodcock, 1; Wilson’s Snipe, 10; Iceland Gull, 2; Great Black-backed Gull, 4; Herring Gull, 10,000 (est.); Ring-billed Gull, 5; Bonaparte’s Gull, 2; Barn Owl, 2; Eastern Screech Owl, 2; Great Horned Owl, 1; Barred Owl, 6; Long-eared Owl, 2; Short-eared Owl, 3; Eastern Belted Kingfisher, 15; Northern Flicker, 6; Eastern Hairy Woodpecker, 13; Northern Downy Woodpecker, 52; Northern Horned Lark, 4; Tree Swallow, 6; Blue Jay, 147; Eastern Crow, 62; Fish Crow, 6; Black-capped Chickadee, 436; Tufted Titmouse 5; Northern White-breasted Nuthatch, 76; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 7; Brown Creeper, 9; Eastern Winter Wren, 5; Carolina Wren, 1; Long-billed Marsh Wren, 9; Short-billed Marsh Wren, 2; Brown Thrasher, 1; American Robin, 6; Eastern Hermit Thrush, 3; Eastern Bluebird, 19; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 55; Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3; American Pipit, 16; Cedar Waxwing, 1; Starling, 15,750 (est., flying to roosts at and near Grant’s Tomb); Myrtle Warbler, 92; Northern Yellow-throat, 1; House Sparrow, 635 (est.); Eastern Meadowlark, 52; Eastern Red-winged Blackbird, 100 (est.); Rusty Blackbird, 11; Brown-headed Cowbird, 2; Northern Cardinal, 1; Purple Finch, 12; Pine Grosbeak, 9; Pine Siskin, 25; American Goldfinch, 107; White-winged Crossbill, 3; Savannah Sparrow, 4; Sharp-tailed Sparrow, 2; Vesper Sparrow, 1; Slate-colored Junco, 634; American Tree Sparrow, 1300 (est.); Chipping Sparrow, 1 (present since Dec. 10); Field Sparrow, 37; White-throated Sparrow, 79; Fox Sparrow, 2; Swamp Sparrow, 33; Song Sparrow, 246; Lapland Longspur, 1; Snow Bunting, 1. Total, 96 species and subspecies, 32,424 (est.) individuals.


Also feral Pigeon (‘Rock Dove’), 3, of an entirely wild, self-sustaining colony. What was described by local mariners as “the worst harbor fog in twenty years” cut down the recorded numbers of many water-birds, made the observation of several common species a matter of sheer luck, and prevented the seeing of 1 Common Loon; 2 Red-throated Loon; 1,000 (est.) White-winged Scoters, 5 Surf Scoters, 60 Canvasbacks, and 1 Glaucous Gull (all seen the day before the census, the day after, or both).


The Bronx County Bird Club (A. D, Cruickshank, W. F. Drescher, C. Farley, R. A. Herbert, J. J. Hickey, I. Kassoy, P. Kessler, J. F. Kuerzi, R. Kuerzi, J. F. Matuszewski, E. Mayr, C. O. Mellinger, M. Oboiko, J. Orth, and A. Thomas).


Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

[below] Red-chested Cuckoo (male) near Arusha (Tanzania) 14 November 2023 Deborah Allen

We'll send more of our bird photos from Tanzania taken in Nov-Dec in a January Newsletter


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