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The half-dozen birders who recently fanned out in a 15-mile circle around Hodgenville spotted healthy populations of their feathered friends.
The Dec. 17 tally was part of the nationwide Audubon Christmas Bird Count, which takes place on different dates through Jan. 5.
Such counts can show wintertime dispersals of birds — and how populations and migrations patterns change, saidSandy Brue, who is compiling information for the local count.
“It looks like we have about 70 species,” she said.
Typically, a dozen or so volunteers participate in the LaRue County tally, which is called the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Christmas Bird Count. “It was so terribly cold,” Brue said.
The group saw a record number of horned larks, which migrate north when the weather warms. Brue said she was most astonished by the large number of local northern harriers, which are hawks.
Other sightings included Ross’s and cackling geese at Sportsman Lake. Also, about 30 meadowlarks were spotted feeding in areas where cattle have stirred up the ground.
“We have wonderful habitats here,” Brue said.
At the Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek Farm, for instance, kingfishers fly along creeks and owls hunt at night.
Brue would like bird tallies to expand in the area. She said a lack of them between Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest and Mammoth Cave leaves a lot of species uncounted.
“I would love to see someone in Hardin County start a bird count,” she said.
John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.