Just past 5 PM on Wednesday, the urgent clamor of Blue Jays drew all the
neighborhood songbirds and woodpeckers and eventually me also to a line of
towering spruces along our neighbor's driveway in northeast Ithaca.  After
several minutes of searching high in the branches, where most of the little
birds were, I found the source of all the alarm - a gray-morph EASTERN
SCREECH-OWL only about seven feet from the ground, in the open on an outer
branch.  It was uncommonly beautiful against the natural dark-green
backdrop, entirely but softly lit by the overcast late-afternoon sky.


Soon the songbird mob dissipated.  I got my scope and over the next hour,
managed to show the owl to my whole family and more than 20 curious
neighbors, including a pre-K kid, a high-school senior, at least a couple of
grandmothers, and many school grades and stages of life in between.  


Mark Chao


PS.  The Montezuma Muckrace, an annual bird-a-thon to raise funds for the
Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, takes place this weekend.  Meena
Haribal, my son Tilden, and I will be participating as a team called Blue
and Bluer.  If you are interested in pledging to the Friends in the name of
our team, any other team, or even no specific team at all, please see
http://www.friendsofmontezuma.org/muck_race.html#donate.  Thank you.





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