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The Christmas Bird Count at BBP

On December 17th, 2016, Heather Wolf and fellow birders endured cold, wet conditions to see which bird species they could spot in the park. Their determination paid off- they observed 21 different species, ranging from White-throated Sparrows and Bufflehead ducks to rarer varieties, including the first recorded sighting of a Cooper’s Hawk at BBP. The group had come for the Christmas Bird Count, an annual tally held across the world to help ornithologists monitor bird populations.

A pair of Bufflehead ducks, seen at BBP only in winter. ©Heather Wolf

This marked the third Christmas Bird Count for Heather, an avid BBP birder and author of Birding at the Bridge. Though sighting the Cooper’s Hawk was a pleasant surprise, as was seeing a single Dark-eyed Junco, Heather’s expertise helped ensure accurate counts for more common species. Later the same evening, Heather retuned to the park and counted 2,600 Ring-billed Gulls!

Another winter resident of the park, the white-throated sparrow. ©Heather Wolf

Heather and the rest of the Bird Count crew sent their findings to the Audubon Society, which uses the data to track the health of bird populations nationwide. The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 and has been held every year since then, providing over a century of data. Today, it continues to prove invaluable to many of Audubon’s conservation efforts.

A seagull perches at Pier 5.

Anyone can participate in the count, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time birder. If you’d like to join next year’s Christmas Bird Count, visit Audubon’s website or, for locations in Brooklyn (including BBP!), check out the Brooklyn Bird Club. We hope to see you there!

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