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Twenty-two observers saw 3,442 birds at the 1989 Audubon Christmas bird count Dec. 17 in Rockingham County.

The local bird county, one of more than 1,550 similar counts designed to help survey the wintering birds in the area, was sponsored by the Rockingham County Naturalist Club.Observers surveyed a count area centered at Rockingham Community College's Whitcomb Student Center and covering an area with a 15-mile radius (approximately 177 square miles).

Working at bird feeders and in the fields, observers counted 76 species of birds, the second highest number reported since the local Christmas bird counts began, according to organizer Julia Gunn.

Three species seen for the first time in Rockingham County were the gadwall, raven and lark sparrow.

Juncos, or snowbirds, were seen by all observers, while cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays, purple finches, mockingbirds, white-throated sparrows, starlings and tufted titmice were seen by nearly all observers.

People taking part in the Christmas bird count were Claud Cook, Donna Cook, Brad Gunn, Julia Gunn, Nathan Rich, Bob Wilkes, Jason Yount and Ken Yount, who participated as field observers.

Feeder watchers were Ann Barbee, Skeezix Brown, Marianne Kunze, Robert Carter, Bea Mansfield, Fay Neal, Tank Nelson, Florence Quackenbush, JoLynn Gunn, Ann Rich, Floyd Rich, Olivia Rich, Cora Anne Turner and Robert Turner.

Following is a breakdown of birds by species:

Rusty blackbird, 4; bluebird, 52; bobwhite, 20; bufflehead, 28; cardinal, 184; catbird, 3; chickadee, 71; cowbird, 4; brown creeper, 1; crow, 95;

Mourning dove, 272; rock dove (pigeon), 76; black duck, 5; ringed-neck duck, 3; house finch, 333; purple finch, 125; gadwall, 1; goldfinch, 76; Canada goose, 265; grackle, 22;

Evening grosbeak, 5; herring gull, 23; great blue heron, 5; blue jay, 204; junco (snowbird), 341; killdeer, 10; belted kingfisher, 2; golden-crowned kinglet, 8; ruby-crowned kinglet, 2; loon, 2;

Mallard, 18; meadowlark, 3; mockingbird, 41; brown-headed nuthatch, 2; white-breasted nuthatch, 4; phoebe, 4; robin, 11; common raven, 4; pine siskin, 2; chipping sparrow, 47;

Field sparrow, 48; fox sparrow, 12; house sparrow, 91; lark sparrow, 3; Savannah sparrow, 1; song sparrow, 46; white-crowned sparrow, 19; white-throated sparrow, 166; starling, 336; brown thrasher, 4;

Hermit thrush, 2; tufted titmouse, 56; towhee, 15; turkey vulture, 61; pine warbler, 1; yellow-rumped warbler, 1; cedar waxwing, 26; Carolina wren, 16; house wren, 1; winter wren, 3.

Hawks: Harrier (marsh hawk), 5; kestrel (sparrow hawk), 9; Cooper's hawk, 4; red-shouldered hawk, 5; red-tailed hawk, 20; sharp-shinned hawk, 3.

Owls: barn owl, 1; barred owl, 2; great-horned owl, 2.

Woodpeckers: flicker, 32; sapsucker, 5; downy woodpecker, 15; hairy woodpecker, 6; pileated woodpecker, 4; red-bellied woodpecker, 22; red-headed woodpecker, 2.

Total species, 76.

Total individuals, 3,442.

In area on Count Week, but not seen on Count Day: wild turkey, screech owl.

Total observers: 22 (eight in the field, 14 at feeders).

Miles traveled: 249 (13 on foot, 236 by car).

Hours in field: 39 (12 on foot, 27 by car).

Hours at feeders: 31.

Hours owling: 3.

Reported by one observer or party.


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