PERU — Bitter winds whipped across the open field, sending clouds of freshly fallen snow over the landscape and forming occasional white-outs.
Several vehicles lined the shoulder of Clark Road in Peru, their occupants huddled inside with all eyes searching the adjacent fields for a glimpse of a very special visitor to the North Country.
COMING FROM AFAR
Over the past several days, bird-watching enthusiasts have been watching a northern hawk owl that has found the apple-tree dotted fields a prime location for its winter roost. And the news of this bird's arrival has spread far and wide.
"I read about it on the Internet, and with a day off today, I thought I'd head up here and check it out," said Tom Millard, from Hewitt, N.J., who left from home at 4 a.m. Tuesday for a chance at a glimpse of the rare bird.
"I'd like to add this to my list of birds that I've seen," he added, noting that he has spotted about 350 species in his bird-watching career.
Millard had been on site for about three hours but had not spotted the visitor by noontime. He spent time visiting with some of the other birders who had also been drawn to the spot, along with a local resident who told him she has been seeing the bird quite regularly.
"Hopefully, he'll show up sooner or later," Millard said.
Bernie and Chris Grossman traveled to Peru from Schenectady with their bird-watching friend Bill Lee Thursday after hearing of the bird's presence on a Web site discussion area at birdingonthe.net.
"There is a whole network of birders interested in this kind of a sighting," Bernie said. "This is a unique bird, not known for being in this area, so it's bound to attract interest."
The Grossmans, who have spotted more than 1,000 species of birds over the years, did observe a northern hawk owl 35 years ago closer to their home in central New York.
"They are beautiful creatures," Bernie said of his lifelong interest in bird watching. "It's like any other kind of hobby. If you're interested in it, you really get involved."
LOOKING FOR FOOD
The northern hawk owl is a medium-sized owl, about the size of a crow, with a long tail and falcon-shaped wingspan. It has a rounded head with yellow eyes, dark-brown upper parts and barred under parts and tail.
The bird typically hunts during the day and is not normally a migratory bird. But like its cousin the snowy owl, it may head south when food becomes scarce in its normal range.
This bird has been sighted about eight-tenths of a mile north of the intersection of Clark and Mannix roads.
E-mail Jeff Meyers at: firstname.lastname@example.org
'I read about it on the Internet and thought I'd head up'
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