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Owls highlight of bird count

Dear Editor,
Just dropping you a note to let you know how the annual Christmas Bird Count went this year. As I was in Sweden, my tree trimming buddy Jim Mussell went and did the count on January 2nd.
I have done the Morson count 25 times since its inception in 1982, and have done the Gameland-Rainy River count 12 times.
This year Jim saw 27 species which is signicant since that was an all time high for either count. With a little luck, and a birder or two to help, I am certain that 30 would have been reached!
As far as notables, Jim saw three species of owls. The Great Grey Owl and Great Horned Owl as you would expect since they are year round residents in your neck of the woods. but the big surprise was a Barred Owl! That is one you find with some regularity in the summer but I have never seen one in the winter.
Another good find was a Red-bellied Woodpecker which we have seen before but a bird that has only reached the Rainy River country in the past four or five years.
There were plenty of the usual suspects, Snow Buntings, Pine and Evening Grosebeaks, Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Northern Shrikes and Sharp-tailed Grouse. Jim saw 29 which probably was amongst the highest numbers in all of Ontario.
Well I gotta go I hope to see you in person next winter Ken.
–Mark Johnson