Bird Counting

The history and purpose of bird counting.

Christmas Bird Count

The first Christmas bird count was conducted in 1900, the suggestion of Frank Chapman, founder of Audubon magazine. He proposed that instead of killing birds on Christmas, as was tradition, we instead count them. The first count was conducted in 25 places in North America, with results reported by 27 observers. Today, tens of thousands of observers report their counts in thousands of locations. The data is used to further our conservation and restoration efforts. We conducted the Corning Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 10, 2016, and the Elmira Christmas Bird Count over several days in late December. Listed below are the species that were sighted. For a description of each of these birds, please visit the Audubon Field Guide.

Corning Christmas Bird Count Results

American Black Ducks - 33 American Crows - 1,028 American Goldfinches - 141
American Kestrels - 3 American Robins - 10 American Tree Sparrows - 55
Bald Eagles - 7 Belted Kingfishers - 3 Black-Capped Chickadees - 214
Blue Jays - 231 Brown Creeper - 1 Canada Geese - 513
Cedar Waxwings - 12 Common Mergansers - 13 Common Ravens - 10
Cooper's Hawk - 1 Dark-Eyed Juncos - 437 Downy Woodpeckers - 24
Eastern Bluebirds - 5 Eastern Screech-Owl - 1 European Starlings - 1,456
Hairy Woodpeckers - 10 Herring Gulls - 2 Hooded Mergansers - 15
House Finches - 48 House Sparrows - 172 Killdeer - 1
Mallards - 140 Mourning Doves - 310 Northern Cardinals - 57
Northern Flickers - 3 Northern Harrier - 1 Northern Mockingbirds - 2
Pileated Woodpeckers - 5 Purple Finches - 11 Red-Bellied Woodpeckers - 11
Red-Tailed Hawks - 28 Red-Winged Blackbirds - 8 Ring-Billed Gulls - 54
Rock Pigeons - 525 Sharp-Shinned Hawks - 2 Song Sparrows - 10
Tufted Titmice - 45 White-Breasted Nuthatch - 29 White-Throated Sparrows - 8
Wild Turkeys - 18    

Elmira Christmas Bird Count Results

American Black Ducks - 14 American Crows - 805 American Goldfinches - 188
American Kestrels - 2 American Robins - 11 American Tree Sparrows - 188
Bald Eagles - 9 Barred Owl - 1 Belted Kingfishers - 6
Black-Capped Chickadees - 548 Blue Jays - 181 Brown Creeper - 3
Canada Geese - 1,511 Carolina Wren - 11 Cedar Waxwings - 2
Common Mergansers - 137 Common Ravens - 24 Common Redpoll - 5
Cooper's Hawk - 4 Dark-Eyed Juncos - 444 Downy Woodpeckers - 75
Eastern Bluebirds - 39 Eastern Screech-Owls - 6 European Starlings - 1,669
Fish Crows - 3 Golden-Crowned Kinglets - 2 Great Black-Backed Gulls - 2
Great Blue Heron - 1 Great Horned Owls - 3 Hairy Woodpeckers - 25
Herring Gulls - 39 House Finches - 98 House Sparrows - 211
Mallards - 505 Mourning Doves - 728 Northern Cardinals - 118
Peregrine Falcon - 1 Pileated Woodpeckers - 20 Red-Bellied Woodpeckers - 16
Red-Breasted Nuthatch - 5 Red-Tailed Hawks - 46 Ring-Billed Gulls - 675
Rock Pigeons - 1,054 Rough-Legged Hawks - 2 Ruffed Grouse - 1
Sharp-Shinned Hawk - 1 Song Sparrows - 10 Tufted Titmice - 67
White-Breasted Nuthatch - 81 White-Throated Sparrows - 26 Wild Turkeys - 115
Winter Wren - 1 Wood Ducks - 2  

Waterfowl & Bald Eagle Count

Every year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation asks volunteers to help find and count ducks and geese throughout the state. It's a great opportunity to get out and see some of the birds that share our region during the winter months. Volunteers are paired with an experienced bird watcher, so no experience is required! Our last Waterfowl & Bald Eagle Count was conducted on January 16, 2016.

Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an international event created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, designed to capture a snapshot of where all the birds are for a single weekend in the late winter. We use the event to highlight the diversity of really amazing birds in the southern Finger Lakes region, and we invite you to explore your feathered neighbors, either in your backyard, your favorite park, or wherever you happen to be (it doesn't need to be a backyard!).

The count runs over four days, so you can count every day from the same location, or go out and explore new areas throughout the four-day count period. For more information about the count, visit Great Backyard Bird Count. If you're interested in meeting up for a bird walk, let us know and we'll see if you can put together a program. Finally, stop by our local Wild Birds Unlimited store for more information about birds and bird counting.

In 2017, Chemung Valley Audubon teamed up with Elmira’s Tanglewood Nature Center to bring families and birds together for fun and science. CVAS’s Bill Ostrander led 40 emerging citizen-scientists along the Tanglewood trails on Saturday morning, February 18, helping them fine-tune their identification skills and tally birds for the 20th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

The worldwide event, which is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, along with international partners, provides a snapshot of bird distribution over a four-day weekend each February. Participants submit checklists of their bird sightings to an ever-growing database, and scientists use this data to study changes in bird populations. You can see the CVAS Tanglewood checklist here.

This year, more than 22 million birds were counted in over 100 countries. Visit this website to learn all about the Great Backyard Bird Count, see fabulous photos and get your start on counting birds for science.

Spring Census Bird Count

More information about the Spring Census Bird Count will be released as the event nears.