Christmas Bird Count

Great Horned Owl by Melissa Fischer

Great Horned Owl by Melissa Fischer

Go to 2016 CBC Results

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was inaugurated at the turn of the last century by Frank Chapman of the National Audubon Society. The fascinating history of this annual event is detailed on the History page of the National Audubon Society’s CBC website.

The purpose of this annual census, now enjoyed by over 50,000 participants throughout the western hemisphere each year, is to gather data that can be used to identify bird population trends from year to year, which in turn can help scientists understand environmental impacts of weather, habitat loss, industrialization, human expansion, and other factors.

For the CBC, the Americas are divided into circles that are 15 miles in diameter. Within each circle, a team of volunteers spends an entire day (in the second half of December or in early January) counting all bird species and individuals within each species. The results are compiled at the end of the day for each circle, and then they are sent to the NAS for inclusion in the complete records.

The CBC is now over 100 years old and the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club has been leading the count in Dutchess County since the club’s inception in 1958; as of the 2010-11 season, Herb Thompson is the compiler. The club also participates in the Pawling (Hidden Valley) count, which encompasses eastern Dutchess County as well as parts of western Connecticut and Putnam County. Sybill Gilbert, also a member of our club, was the compiler for the Pawling CBC for many years and then handed it over to Carena Pooth, who continues in her role with the assistance of Angela Dimmitt on the CT side of the border. A third circle that intersects Dutchess County is the one for Lakeville-Sharon, centered in Lakeville, CT, and coordinated by Audubon Sharon. This circle includes parts of the towns of Northeast and Amenia in Dutchess County, and those areas are covered by Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club members. The newest Christmas count circle that includes part of the county is the Ulster-Dutchess count, organized by the John Burroughs Natural History Society. The Hudson River runs down the middle of the circle, so the towns of Red Hook and Rhinebeck are included. See below for Dutchess County and Pawling circle maps.

Get Involved!

When: The last Dutchess County CBC occurred on December 16, 2016, and the Pawling/Hidden Valley CBC was held on January 1, 2017. The Lakeville-Sharon CBC was December 18, and the Ulster-Dutchess CBC was on December 28. For other CBCs in New York State, check the New York State Ornithological Association website.

How: Want to experience the excitement and camaraderie of the next Christmas Bird Count? Visit our Field Trips page and watch in the November issue of our club newsletter, Wings over Dutchess, for information on participating in the Dutchess, Pawling, and other local CBCs. Or contact our CBC coordinator Herb Thompson at cbc1@watermanbirdclub.org.

Dutchess County Results – December 16, 2016

Pawling (Hidden Valley) CBC – January 1, 2016 (2017 results to come)

Official Audubon CBC Results

You can see the results of any CBC ever held at the National Audubon Society website. Enter the year(s) you’re interested in and the 4-letter count code, and the data will be displayed. Alternatively, you can enter the country and state/province you’re interested in, and a list of counts will be displayed. Click the circle to the left of the count for which you want to see the data, and it will be displayed.

Our local CBCs have these count codes:

  • Dutchess County — NYDC
  • Pawling (Hidden Valley) — NYHV
  • Lakeville-Sharon, CT — CTLS
  • Ulster-Dutchess — NYUD

Local CBC Count Circle Maps

View or print maps of our local CBC circles. If you have a high speed internet connection (such as cable or DSL), you can quickly download the high resolution maps. If you have a dialup connection, you may prefer the faster downloading (but lower resolution) files.

High Resolution (large pdf files, Adobe Acrobat Reader required…Download Acrobat now)

Lower Resolution (faster download, jpg files)