The Birds of Dutchess County, NY

The Birds of Dutchess County, NY, Updated 2017 Version Including Photo Gallery

by Stan DeOrsey and Barbara A. Butler

The authoritative source on local birdlife, The Birds of Dutchess County, New York, documents Current Status and History since 1870 for all 323 bird species that have occurred in the county. Each species account includes historical distribution, migration dates, nesting dates, flock sizes, and much more. Local birders will recognize many old friends (both feathered and human) and will learn about the role of the county’s history in the ever-changing tapestry of bird life and birding in the area.

SEARCHING THE DIGITAL FILE: Since the online version is a PDF file, it is easy to search the text for an individual species or specific words. Click on the link at the top of this page to display the file. Press “Ctrl-F,” then enter the word(s) you want to search for in the “Find” field. If your browser does not allow this, download or copy the file to your computer and use the Ctrl-F command.

The authors, long-standing members of the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club, have meticulously researched the extensive records maintained by the club as well as many older documents not readily available. The result of their work is a comprehensive reference that every serious birder in the region will turn to often. While the original hardcover book is sold out and there are no plans to publish a second edition at this time, the work will be updated on an ongoing basis to maintain its value as a reference. The online version updated in 2016 is essentially the same as the published book but a few errors in spelling and formatting have been corrected, some minor updates have been made (such as new earliest / latest migration dates or new census maximum numbers), and all the most recent casual / accidental sightings have been included. The Bibliography has been updated with a number of new finds – some published works, more old photographs from Horton, and notes on local skin and egg specimens found in various museums.

Since The Birds of Dutchess County was published in 2006, many new sightings have been reported resulting in status changes for a number of species. These changes are generally first county sightings, confirmed sightings from Hypothetical, or sufficient sightings to be termed “regular.” Regular generally means more than ten accepted records since 1950 thus expected to be seen again. Species only recorded once or twice are usually termed Accidental. Species not reported for many years, generally last recorded well before 1950, are moved to a category of Historical.

Species names and taxonomic order have been updated in the online version to the latest supplement to the American Ornithological Society (AOS) Check-list of North American Birds. For the text of NYSARC (New York State Avian Records Committee) reports see the NYSOA (New York State Ornithological Association) website’s NYSARC section.

Other historical information including May Census, Christmas Count, Waterfowl Count, and Bluebird nesting data are available on this website in our Records section. Historical Photographs, many supporting casual or accidental sightings, are available on the Good Birds page on this website.

Financial support for the original edition was provided through a grant from the New York State Biodiversity Research Institute. Originally published September 2006 (now out of print), 284 pages, hard cover, ISBN 978-0-9635190-2-3, $25.00.


“Birds of Dutchess County, unlike most regional books, promises to have significance beyond the borders of the small area it covers. Those interested in the history of North American birding and ornithology will find the book a rich source of information on many of the most influential figures of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The records the book makes available are an equally important piece in the puzzle of bird distribution in the inland northeast. And most significantly, The Birds of Dutchess County, in the thoroughness of its research, the honesty of its evaluations, and the care of its presentation, provides an authoritative model for how a regional bird book should be put together.” — Rick Wright, professional guide and editor of Winging It, the ABA newsletter

“It’s a one-of-a-kind guidebook, written with the authority of — by all appearances — every significant document penned by a serious bird watcher in Dutchess since 1870. It is also a testament to the power of citizen science, as the weekly, monthly and annual bird counts performed for decades by enthusiastic bird club members yield insights into the changes in the local bird population.” — Dan Shapley, Environmental Editor, Poughkeepsie Journal

“Invaluably one of the greatest decisions made by the early members of the [Waterman Bird] club was to have members submit monthly accounts of their sightings. Now, nearly 50 years later, and with these records PLUS those uncovered of earlier birders, the two co-authors had the benefit of the records but were faced with the daunting task of studying, assembling, assessing, sorting and making the records understandable and useful and all in a book form. Still the end product is second to none and should stand as the standard by which all regional efforts of describing the avian activities of an area are judged.” — Ken McDermott, Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club

“Using records from the 1880s to the present, this remarkable book documents the current and historic status of 312 species of birds of Dutchess County. Ornithologically speaking it is now one of the most thoroughly known counties in the state. The book is full of lively writing and interesting anecdotes about the birds and the birders.” — from Warblings, newsletter of Sullivan County Audubon