Contests & Special Counts
Christmas Bird Count

Every year for the past 66 years, Sullivan County Audubon Society members and friends have been counting the birds in a specified count circle in the county. The size of the count circle is determined by National Audubon as 15 miles in diameter, but its location in the county was determined by the local group.

When the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was started in Sullivan County in 1950, the circle location was chosen carefully by the leaders, Ken Niven and Ed McBride, to touch on the Bashakill, the Rio Reservoir, Kiamesha Lake, the Neversink Gorge and all the region between these areas. This same circle, which provides a variety of habitats, has been the site for counting birds over more than six decades. (This same circle is also used forone of our July Butterfly Counts.) The data collected from our local count is submitted to the national CBC and is compiled with other counts from across the U.S. and throughout the Western Hemisphere. The data is important as a way to monitor the status of early winter bird populations as well as the overall health of the environment.

These counts are great fun and can become part of your winter traditions. Check our December calendar for the next CBC date and to find out how you can get involved. Results of the SCAS count are published in the spring issue of Warblings each year..

The data for all of the Christmas Counts conducted all over North America are now available online through the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Our local count has code NYMT and is called the “Monticello, NY” count.  If you want to see the information we have contributed over the years, including the kinds of birds and the numbers found go to the Audubon CBC "Results" page and start by clicking Current Year or Historical at the top of the screen. If you'd like to learn more about the Christmas Bird Count, check out National Audubon's CBC website.

2016 Posted 4/18/17 
View results of another CBC

December 28th, 2016 was Sullivan County's 66th year of doing the annual Christmas Count for the National Audubon Society. Over the years many people have logged hundreds of miles, not only driving but walking too. Countless hours have ticked by and thousands of birds have been recorded. 

Every few years a new species is added, this year the team of Kathy Scullion, Bill Cutler and Scott Graber spotted two Black Vultures. This is a species that is expanding their range each year and it was a great find by them. They had the highest count of 11 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 5 Pileated Woodpeckers, 11 Eastern Bluebirds, and the only Brown-headed Cowbirds.

The team of John Haas and Karen Miller found the only Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Barred Owl, and Red Breasted Nuthatches. They had high counts of 142 Black Ducks, 13 Hooded Mergansers, 46 Wild Turkeys, 26 Bald Eagles, and 92 Black-capped Chickadees.

Scott Baldinger, Marlena Lange, Joyce Depew and Mark Diedrich came up with a very late Eastern Phoebe for the Bashakill area. This is only the second time one has been recorded on our count. They also had the only Red-shouldered Hawk, Winter Wrens, a Gray Catbird which has only been found on 5 other counts, Red-winged Blackbird and Purple Finch. They had high counts of 250 Canadian Geese, 4 Hairy Woodpeckers, 3 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 18 American Tree Sparrows, 3 Song Sparrows, and 23 American Goldfinches. For “count week” Scott also had Cedar Waxwings, Coopers Hawk and a Swamp Sparrow.  

Patrick and Riley Dechon along with Caleb Budd and Zachary Alexander found the only Belted Kingfisher within our circle. This is a bird that is easily missed on this count. It has only been seen on 48 of the past counts. Good spotting! They also had the largest amount of 35 Mourning Doves.

Ruth McKeon, Ruth Shursky, with Kate and Charlie Hyden counted 132 Ring-billed Gulls. These have appeared regularly now on 39 counts. Their area also produced the largest number of Rock Pigeons 58.

Marge Gorton, Arlene Borko and Renee Davis had the largest numbers of Mallards,  Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays 60, American Crows, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, an impressive flock of 95 Robins, Mockingbirds, 210 European Starlings, White-throated Sparrows, 115 Dark-eyed Juncos, 21 Northern Cardinals, House Finches, and 86 House Sparrows.

Together we drove 361.9 miles, and walked 13.25 miles in 43.5 hours. We found 51 total species consisting of 3342 individuals. We had a little bit of everything as far as weather goes,  sleet, snow and sun, with temperatures ranging from 29 to 34 degrees. 

Thank-you to everyone for their time and effort from Sullivan County Audubon Society. 

Renee Davis
Warblings, Spring 2017