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ASK OTUS WITH HUNDREDS OF COLORFUL CREATURES, CELERY FIELDS PROVES TO BE A BACKYARD TREASURE FOR SARASOTANS Dear Readers, The road to the Celery Fields is a short, pleas- ant ride for Sarasotans with cars or bicycles. For an Eastern Screech-Owl visiting from south Siesta Key, it is an arduous flight. Several things kept up my spirits and resolve while trying to maintain that five-wing-beats- per-second tempo: One was mouse and moth snacks at rest stops; the second was recalling a fabulous tale from The Arabian Nights. I'm sure you all know it. A man traveled the world in search of treasure. After years of fruitless searching, he returned home defeated and destitute only to discover the treasure had been in his very own backyard all that time. I love happy endings! And that's what the Celery Fields is: a trea- sure in every Sarasotan's backyard. The 216 (and counting!) bird species that permanently and seasonally make Celery Fields their home draw visitors here from all around the world. The 216 species are impressive statistics. But statistics, being rather cut-and-dried, can't ad- equately describe those clouds of birds beat- ing their wings, uttering strange cries of de- light or warning off of strangers. Barred Yellows butterflies have been abounding at Celery Fields, too, for mating season. File photo

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