The New Checklist Is Here! The New Checklist Is Here!

Grasshopper Sparrow, from “Nature neighbors, embracing birds, plants, animals, minerals,” 1914, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

During the summer of 2018, Ajit Antony organized a mini breeding bird survey of Orange County, which was conducted with the assistance of 15 other Mearns Club members. The birds to be surveyed were chosen on the basis of a poll of club members and are listed below, along with their statuses on the Mearns club Orange County checklist:

  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo (former breeder)
  • Black-billed Cuckoo (former breeder)
  • White-eyed Vireo (nonbreeder)
  • Ruffed Grouse (former breeder)
  • Magnolia Warbler (breeder)
  • Blackburnian Warbler (breeder)
  • Sora (nonbreeder)
  • Red-headed Woodpecker (former breeder)
  • Yellow-breasted Chat (breeder)
  • Eastern Whip-poor-will (former breeder)
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (breeder)
  • Blue Grosbeak (breeder)
  • Osprey (nonbreeder)
  • American Black Duck (former breeder)
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Nashville Warbler

On the basis of the data gathered over the course of the breeding season by the survey participants, the survey birds were categorized as confirmed breeders, probable breeders, or possible breeders (according to the criteria used in the New York State breeding bird atlases):

Confirmed Breeders: Ruffed Grouse, Sora, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Probable Breeders: Eastern Whip-poor-will, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Black-billed Cuckoo, and White-eyed Vireo.

Possible Breeders: Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow-rumpled Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Chat, Osprey, and Blue Grosbeak.*

There were no confirmed sightings of Nashville Warbler, American Black Duck, or Blue Grosbeak* during the breeding period.

A number of other birds of interest were found incidentally during the survey period and are listed below (with their statuses on the club checklist):

  • Common Merganser (nonbreeder)
  • Golden-winged Warbler (breeder)
  • Northern Parula ( (nonbreeder))
  • Acadian Flycatcher (breeder)
  • Barred Owl (breeder)
  • Dark-eyed Junco (breeder)
  • Least Bittern (nonbreeder)
  • American Bittern (nonbreeder)
  • Black-crowned Night Heron (nonbreeder)
  • Double-crested Cormorant (nonbreeder)

Using the results for both the survey birds and the incidental birds—along with information from the NY state breeding bird atlases and taxonomy changes instituted by the American Ornithological Society—the club’s Avian Records Committee updated the Orange County checklist. The updated checklist reflects changes in the breeding codes, for consistency with the 2005 NY state breeding bird atlas system. In addition, the formatting of the list was changed slightly to make it easier on the eye.


* One Blue Grosbeak was seen on 5/21/2018 and may have been a migrant overshoot.