SIGHTING: Observers watched and counted several birds in the campground area of Clifty Falls State Park during the 115th Christmas Bird Count held by the National Audubon Society. The Hanover-Madison count on Saturday allowed volunteers to observe different birds that stay in the area during the winter months. (Staff photo by Renee Bruck/rbruck@madisoncourier.com)
SIGHTING: Observers watched and counted several birds in the campground area of Clifty Falls State Park during the 115th Christmas Bird Count held by the National Audubon Society. The Hanover-Madison count on Saturday allowed volunteers to observe different birds that stay in the area during the winter months. (Staff photo by Renee Bruck/rbruck@madisoncourier.com)
Seven volunteers gathered on a rainy and cold Saturday to carry on a 115-year tradition - the annual Christmas Bird Count.



Volunteers spent the day observing and counting birds throughout the Hanover and Madison areas.



The group identified dozens of cardinals, crows, robins, downy and hairy woodpeckers, mallards, American black ducks, Canada geese, pied-billed grebes, American kestrels, peregrine falcons, a red-shouldered hawk, American goldfinches and Carolina wrens during the event.



The Christmas Bird Count information gathered during the count day and count week will be included in the longest running Citizens Survey, which highlights trends in bird migration. The survey information gives scientists an idea of how bird populations have changed over the years, the National Audubon Society website said.



The Christmas Bird Count, which began on Christmas Day 1900, started as a protest to popular bird hunting traditions often held during the holiday. According to the National Audubon Society, observers and scientists became concerned with declining bird populations so people began counting birds instead of participating in the hunting tradition.



The nationwide event continues this year with tens of thousands of volunteers expected to participate in 2,300 identified circles or areas during the count period. The count period runs nationwide from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 each year, but the count for the Hanover-Madison area takes place each year on the Saturday closest to the New Year, Madison resident Dick Davis said.



Volunteers for the Hanover-Madison count included Davis, Clifty Falls State Park Interpretive Naturalist Kristie Ridgway, Lindsey Hayter, Bill Poindexter, Kim Kirchner, Kevin Carlson and Terry Bunton.



While most of the volunteers had been birding before, Davis said the Christmas Bird Count isn't just for experienced birders. Davis described birding as an activity for anyone who enjoys the out of doors and a social activity.



"This is a way to share the best of both," he said.



Another statewide bird count will be held by the Indiana Audubon Society on the second Saturday in May 2015.