NEW ULM - Area birders viewed two new species - the Harris's Sparrow and Barrel Owl - Dec. 15 during their annual Christmas bird count on Saturday, Dec. 15.
"The day was dreary and drizzly but surprising," said New Ulm birder Elaine Poulson.
Fourteen bird counters began at 7:30 a.m. at Hy-Vee Foods, breaking into seven groups. Seven other people watched at bird feeders. All count areas were within 15 miles of Center and Broadway, New Ulm.
Bird counters went to Clear and Swan Lakes, area creeks and rivers, Poulson said.
The Harris's' Sparrow is a large sparrow with a breeding habitat in northern Canada that migrates to the U.S. Great Plains states, from lower South Dakota to upper Texas, according to A Guide to Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World.
Barred Owls are large, typical owls native to North America. They are also known as Eight Hooters, Rain Owls, Wood Owls, Striped Owls and likely best known as Hoot Owls based on their call.
Other 2012 New Ulm bird counts included Junco Var. (183), Wild Turkey (181), House Sparrow (165), Rock Dove (Pigeon) (158), European Starling (110), American Crow (68), Northern Cardinal (47), Lapland Long-spur (42), Snow Bunting (39), Downy Woodpecker (34), White-Breasted Nuthatch (29).
There were 36 total species and 1,347 birds counted. Results will be reported to the National Audobon Society for inclusion to their annual bird count records.