Annual Central Park Bird Count

The 109th annual Central Park Bird Count was conducted Sunday afternoon. The count is done each year to track the number and type of birds found in the park. Before the turn of the century the Christmas holiday was celebrated by what was called a “side hunt”. This consisted of a bunch of people (presumably dressed in tweed) choosing up sides and going out hunting. Whichever side came home with the biggest pile of dead animals won.   

What fun!

Originally initiated by the Audubon Society as a response to this annual yuletide slaughter the Bird Count is still organized by the bird watching society and is done in conjunction with the Parks Department. It also employs a dedicated cadre of bird enthusiasts to help with the counting. About 75 people came out on Sunday to help and were divided into groups to count birds in seven different zones in the park, including the Great Lawn, the Ramble, the Reservoir and the four corners of the park.

Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said the count this year was 6,041 birds from 55 different species. That’s down from last year’s count of 7,771 birds. Up this year were the number of rare bird called a Pine Sisken, about 50 were seen in the Ramble area of the park, a large increase over last year. Another interesting find this year was a wild turkey that has been making appearances around the Lake this fall. Presumably he was granted asylum from Alaska.