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My Column: Readers' Best Birding Moments

Snowy owl Paul Sullivan                                                   A Snowy Owl appeared magically on the coast of Maine.   Photo: Courtesy of Paul R. Sullivan

A while back, I asked readers of  "The Bird Watcher" for the most memorable birding moment. Got enough replies to fill two columns. One of the highlights -- this Snowl Owl photo by Paul K. Sullivan.

The first installment ran today.

You can read it here:

By Jim Wright
Special to The Record 

A while back, I asked readers to share their most memorable birding moments. The responses were all over the map, from Maine to Ecuador.

Here are five favorites, edited for space:

H. Winter, Wyckoff: A band of 10-year-olds was excitedly coming up Newtown Road, led by a big white bird -- a swan! It was quite a sight and one that needed action. 

Remarkably, the children and I were able to usher the swan into my fenced-in backyard. I figured the bird was from the McFaul Wildlife Center, and they’d be looking for it.  

I called the center, and a van with two rangers arrived quickly.  We cheered as the trio, bird in hands, returned to the van successfully.  

The swan was exquisite, the rangers adept, and the merry band such a delight.

Mimi  Brauch, Hawthorne: Years ago at Garret Mountain, a wonderful birder named Bob Guthrie mentioned seeing a young red-headed woodpecker, then new to my list.   

I still remember him saying, "Follow me."  We went up, and up, through branches and brambles, and there was this little guy all alone.  Magical!

Paul R. Sullivan, Emerson: In 2013, my family and I went to Maine to see the lighting of the Cape Neddick Lighthouse for Christmas.  

The next morning I went to photograph the lighthouse in the predawn light. As I approached, a large white bird flew over my car. I saw the bird in the parking area: a snowy owl. 

I took my photos and went to get my telephoto. My wife came back with me and drove so I could photograph. 

There were two owls. I photographed one sitting on the rocks (see photo). It moved, and my wife slowly positioned the car for another shot. 

As I was about to press the shutter, a man in a pick-up gets out with his cellphone, and the owl flies away. My wife was livid. I told her to relax, I was able to get some photos. Whenever I mention snowy owls, my wife still relives the whole affair.  

Marc Chelemer, Tenafly: When I was 12, living in Pittsburgh, my two brothers and I were walking to school one May morning. We looked up into a tree and saw a small, dark bird with a flaming orange flash on the neck.  

None of us had binoculars, so we just stared at this incredible small thing. At lunch, we raced to our well-thumbed Peterson field guide, looking for what we'd seen.  

And there it was, on the "Warblers with Streaks" page:  a male Blackburnian Warbler.  That moment I realized how magnificent this "hobby" could be. Our ability to identify it without an adult inspired us to become birders.  

My adult son, in tribute to me as his father, now has a male Blackburnian Warbler tattooed on his shoulder (and a darn good job by the artist, I must say).

Grant Price, Warren: On a trip to Ecuador, we lucked out on the weather, except for one rainy morning. We drove to the next lodge and arrived in a steady rain. 

The lodge had a gazebo, so we went there to wait it out. Shortly after arrival, a horde of hummingbirds showed up for about 20 minutes. At some point, we realized we’d seen 16 species of hummingbirds. A memorable day.

    Next time:   More memorable moments.

    The Bird-watcher column appears every other Thursday. Email Jim at celeryfarm@gmail.com.
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