Owatonna's 45th Christmas Bird Count takes place this Saturday, December 17. The count area covers a 15-mile diameter circle with Havana as its center point. Towns in this count area include Owatonna, Claremont, Clinton Falls and Steele Center. The temperature looks to be in the single digits with plenty of snow cover. Darryl Hill has taken part in all of the 44 previous counts and anticipates there might be fewer birds this year mainly due to the ice on Lake Kohlmier. The coldest bird count was in 1983 with a temperature of 22 below and the warmest was in 2002 with a balmy 50 degrees.

There is no charge to take part in the count. People who would like to be part of the field count, which starts around 8AM, may call Hill at (507) 451-5073. This is also the number to call in your totals. Those who want to count at home using their bird feeders are reminded to simply count the highest number of one species of bird that you see at one time to avoid counting some birds more than once.

Last year, 75 people counted 4,379 individual birds, which was about average. To date, a total of 106 species of birds have been counted in the Owatonna Christmas Bird Count.