Saturday, January 18, 2014


Words cannot express the sadness in saying goodbye to another friend, so generous to our cause and an intelligent, witty and kind soul. Our memories are happy when we think of Howard Wurlitzer (yes, of Wurlitzer pianos and jukeboxes!), his mischievous laugh and smile and LOVE of field biologists, their stories and research. I had the great opportunity to meet Howard in 2009 at our owl banding site at BCCER during a Candles in the Canyon reserve fundraiser.  After meeting his first Saw-whet, we became fast friends and Howard became a big supporter of  Altacal's NSWO migration project.
Howard's first NSWO-she got him hooked! Saw-whets do
that to people.
To show our appreciation, our crew of banders (which often varied from year to year) set up an annual NSWO banding dinner at Howard's house in N. Chico. Each year's group of banders came with nets, poles and banding equipment and set up a few nets on Pine Creek that ran past Howard's home. We brought pasta or chili, salads and breads, and bottles of wine and engaged in a yummy feast around Howard's big table. In year two, we were joined by Howard's son Lindsay and wife Paula,and our tradition continued through Dec. 2013. Most years we captured the resident Western Screech Owls, but in 2012 we captured our first Saw-whet, which confirmed that at least one was wintering in the oak woodland habitat that is dominant on the property.
Our first dinner with Howard. True we look quite civilized
and subdued but the fun and the tradition had just begun!

There are so many stories to share but one most memorable happened when we were all chatting at the table and Dorthy, Howard's good friend, said excitedly "there's a ringtail at the window!" And there at the porch slider was a ringtail  peering at us-as though it was asking for a handout.We truly had a National Geographic moment on that well-lit porch, when this normally elusive mammal climbed up an overhanging oak tree and picked off a sleeping songbird, plucked its' small meal, and then scampered away. What a sighting for us!

Howard had a knack for engaging you in a great story, usually biological but also about art, regional history, good wine and local legends. We are so honored to have met this man and called him our friend. We will miss you Howard!
Howard with one of his resident W. Screech Owls and three
friends, Julie, Dorothy and me.

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