The primary mission of the Great South Bay Audubon Society is to advocate for the conservation of habitats for native birds and other native wildlife on Long Island.

Subscribe to the GSBAS Email Newsletter

Sign up for the GSBAS email newsletter to receive notifications
of upcoming events, alerts, notices and other news related to the
community and our organization.

Name:   Email:

Privacy Policy

Bird Counts

52nd Annual Captree Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Recap courtesy of Shai Mitra & Patricia Lindsay

Forty participants conducted the Captree CBC on December 15, 2013. This Count circle is on the south shore of Long Island, around the Fire Island Inlet. One of the first birds of the day was a Snowy Owl that flew directly over members of the barrier beach parties as we assembled at Captree around 6:45 -- the first of an astounding tally of 14 Snowies on the count.

A couple of additional good counts that were immediately obvious:

Other highlights included:

Our worst misses included the following species, with the number in parentheses indicating the number of years each was recorded during the previous ten:

Other obvious low counts included:

The species total was 119.

Notable count-week birds included the previously reported Gyrfalcon at Cedar Beach and an Orange-crowned Warbler in Babylon Village.

Shai Mitra & Patricia Lindsay
Bay Shore, NY

51st Annual Captree Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Recap courtesy of Shai Mitra & Patricia Lindsay

The 51st Captree CBC was conducted on 16 Dec 2012 under strong easterly winds, with rain increasing from trace in the morning to light through the afternoon.

The species total was 115 (plus Ipswich Sparrow), just above the 10-year average of 114, but the composition of this middling total was regarded as really remarkable by long-time participants.

Three species were added to the count's hefty cumulative list:

Using the Brooklyn CBC's scarcity criteria, we recorded 10 species that have been found on only 0-3 of the past 10 CBCs, and a further 10 species that have been found on 4-7 of the past 10 CBCs. The pair of numbers after each name represent the number of records from the last 10 years, followed by the number of records from the count's previous 50-year history (for example, Dovekie had not been recorded in the last 10 years, but was recorded 6 times 1962-2011).

By far our worst miss was Horned Grebe. Despite extensive coverage of the oceanfront, Fire Island Inlet, and Great South Bay, this species was absent for just the second time in 51 years.

Also missed for the second time ever was Canvasback, but in this case the first miss was just last year, and numbers have been obviously reduced in recent years (Captree averaged 859 Canvasbacks per year from 1969-1981).

Eastern Meadowlark was missed for the the 6th time in 51 years, and Wilson's Snipe for the 10th time. After these, the misses were much less unusual, but seemingly included a larger proportion of "tough" species than usual - probably owing to the poor weather.

Shai Mitra
Bay Shore

50th Annual Captree Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Recap courtesy of Shai Mitre

The Captree CBC was conducted for the 50th time on 18 December 2011. In the weeks and days leading up to the count, I spoke with both of the count's founders, Joe Horowitz and Guy Tudor, who shared some thoughts on the origins of this count back in December 1962. Neither was able to join us on Sunday, but we hope they’ll be pleased to know that the tradition is still going strong.

We recorded 116 species, which is about average for recent years:

On the down side, we finally missed Canvasback, for the first time ever, after a steady decline over several decades (this count used to record 1,000+ back in the 1970s).

Northern Pintail was another painful miss (just the fifth ever), but not surprising in view of recent trends.

No Gallinaceous birds were found, despite repeated, massive dumps of baby quail at several sites within the circle in recent years.

American Kestrel was missed for the fifth time ever, but for the fourth time in the last 12 years.

Killdeer was missed for the 12th time.

Red-breasted Nuthatch was missed for just the third time ever, evidence of the species’ scarcity in the region this winter.

Ipswich Savannah Sparrow was missed for the 13th time.

Eastern Meadowlark was missed for just the fifth time ever, but for the fourth time in the last nine years.

Other blackbirds were also a weak point on this year’s count, with four reasonably expectable species missed (only Red-wing was found).

Finally, finches were completely absent, except for House and Goldfinch.

A Black Rail was reported from a mainland site where they have been reported in prior years (never before on the CBC), but where crepuscular and nocturnal access is limited. I’m aware that interest in this species is intense among birders (it would be a lifebird for me, too!), but the finders and I agree that discretion is desirable, at the very least until we have a chance to discuss matters with the managers of the property.

Shai Mitra
Bay Shore

49th Annual Captree Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

The Captree CBC was conducted Sunday, December 19th, 2010 on a very pleasant winter day for birding.

A couple of bouts of sustained cold prior to the count produced extensively frozen conditions, including portions of Great South Bay, and quite a few ice-sensitive species were scarce or absent.

Highlights among the 119 species tallied included the following:

Many thanks to all who participated!

Patricia Lindsay & Shai Mitra
Bay Shore

48th Annual Captree Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

The 47th Captree CBC was conducted today in southwestern Suffolk County. The weather was good—cold and calm at dawn, warming through the day under a freshening south-southwest breeze.

The preliminary tally was 127 species, plus Ipswich Sparrow.

There were three species new to the count's cumulative list:

Surprises included:

Additional highlights, with territory name in parentheses:

Count Species Territory Name
9 Snow Goose (Estates & Heckscher)
1 Common Eider (Fire)
1 Harlequin Duck (Seatuck)
2 Common Merganser (Belmont)
2 Black-crowned Night-Heron (East & Estates)
1 American Kestrel (North)
1 Virginia Rail (Heckscher)
2 Greater Yellowlegs (Estates)
1 Wilsons Snipe (Estates)
3 Black-legged Kittiwake (Fire)
2 Razorbill (Fire)
2 Snowy Owl (Fire & Jones)
1 Short-eared Owl (Jones)
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Connetquot)
4 Brown Creeper (East, Connetquot, Belmont, & Heckscher)
2 Marsh Wren (Estates, Heckscher)
12 Eastern Bluebird (Heckscher)
2 Brown Thrasher (Estates & Seatuck)
2 Palm Warbler (North and Fire)
4 Chipping Sparrow (Heckscher & Fire)
1 White-crowned Sparrow (Fire)
1 Eastern Meadowlark (Jones)
1 Rusty Blackbird (Fire)
2 Common Grackle (Connetquot)
2 Purple Finch (Fire)
10 Pine Siskin (Fire & Jones)
27,500 Black Scoter  
4,528 Long-tailed Duck  
4 Merlin  
120 Carolina Wren  
10 Winter Wren  
797 American Robin  
967 White-throated Sparrow  
212 Brown-headed Cowbird  
361 American Goldfinch  

Bad misses:
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Great Egret
American Bittern (count-week)

Some photos are posted at:

Many thanks to all who participated, and happy holidays to all!

Shai Mitra & Patricia Lindsay

Audubon and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Announce
The Seventh Annual Great Backyard Bird Count
Participate by Visiting:

Audubon Contact