Chuck Neustifter: Saw-whet

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I am enjoying my third or fourth cup of coffee while Patches sits curled up on her bed dreaming of fat, slow rabbits. We received several inches of new snow last night. The temperature dropped from the mid forties to a more wintery twenty-four. I am just writing to share a new bird sighting: a few days ago, when the winds were fierce, Patches and I decided to take the mile loop around Newton Lake, a favorite fishing spot six or seven miles outside Cody. While following a deer trail through some grass and reeds, our attention was drawn to what looked like a rock lodged between the trunk and low limb of a cottonwood. Patches continued following mouse tracks while I brought my scope up and eventually spotted this small blinking, yellow-eyed fellow tucked against the east side of the tree (the wind blowing from the west). He was only four or five feet above the ground. I threw off my gloves and unpocketed my Sibley’s. Identification was hampered by the web of dead limbs that criss-crossed in front of him. (How do they spring into flight from such a thicket?) After checking and rechecking–he was very patient–I finally whispered to myself: “A Saw-whet.”  What an inexplicable thrill, a thrill I feel every time I bring my glass up and identify something new (and even old). I thought of you guys. One of my favorite Mary Oliver poems is “Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard.” Check it out. And have a good morning. Chuck