Eastern Screech Owl becomes new RMC campus legend, column by Andrhea Massey, photo courtesy of Zoo Montana

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A little less than a month ago, another campus legend hid unnoticed in a cedar tree just outside the RMC Student Union Building– unnoticed, that is, until RMC senior Sierra Wilson walked by. “Interesting wildlife living in close proximity to humans is one of the reasons I moved out west in the first place,” she said, smiling broadly – and it is definitely an interesting find!

Throughout the world, these creatures symbolize wisdom and knowledge – ironically, their huge eyes take2_16_16_FinalRevised-024 up so much space in their skulls that there is little room left for brain matter, making them relatively dumb. According to the National Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization that has been around since 1905, this little ball of fluff can be found in Billings, Montana, but isn’t very common. The Megascops asio, commonly known as the Eastern Screech Owl, can grow to be ten inches long but usually stays between six and eight inches, making it one of the smallest owls around.

Despite the name, screech owls do not screech; the voice of this species features whinnies and soft trills. Unlike many of its cousins, this owl has adapted very well to man-made habitats. It can be found in any habitat that has open ground and some large trees. From forests to isolated groves to your own backyard, the screech owl is incredibly adaptive – which means RMC is almost perfect. This particular owl seems to favor the RMC campus; there have been several sightings in the last few months. If it sticks around, it could earn a reputation to rival the legendary Rocky Bobcat, Rufus. In that case, the little legend needs a name! The Eastern Screech owl living on the RMC campus is hereby dubbed “Rae” after the curious student who first spotted it, Sierra Rae Wilson.

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