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15,427 birds reported in annual count

The rain held off Sunday for participants in the 2016 Mathews Audubon Christmas Bird Count, and all of the sectors were covered even though the count fell on a holiday.

Coordinator Joyce McKelvey said that 33 birders, including some newcomers, participated in the count. The volunteers covered an area that’s 15 miles in diameter and that includes Mathews County and Ware Neck in Gloucester County.

All told, 15,427 birds were counted, representing 115 possible species. Of those birds, only 226 were Eastern bluebirds, said the release, while 31 bald eagles were sighted. One of the eagles was found dead in the Hallieford sector.

The overall number of birds counted was down from last year, when 19,482 birds were reported. Last year, more than 40 birders participated in the local count.

Early on Sunday morning an injured great horned owl was found by two Horn Harbor Sector participants, McKelvey said. The bird was promptly turned over to wildlife rehabilitator Ralph Horn, who was al...

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