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      The Nature Report: Owl and Snake

      Perched at the edge of a hollow in an old mesquite, a screech owl is so perfectly camouflaged that at first glance its presence is hardly noticeable.

      The diminutive owl remains motionless as it peers intently at the ground below.

      Finally, after several minutes of scrutiny, the screech owl looks up and resumes a more relaxed posture from its late afternoon haunt. Just below the owl TMs lofty vantage, a Ruthven TMs whipsnake flicks its tongue as it searches the branches of a coyotillo for prey.

      While the coyotillo bears a poisonous fruit, the serpent entwined amidst its limbs does not posses a venomous bite. From the coyotillo to an adjacent coma, the agile snake climbs effortlessly thru the branches.

      The tropical Ruthven TMs whipsnake does not venture much farther north than the Rio Grande Valley and this specimen at more than four feet in length is a very large representative of the species. Equally at home on an old log or sandy soiled ranchland, the whipsnake finishes its arboreal hunt and returns to the ground where it glides away before disappearing into thick foliage. Meanwhile, as the shadows begin to lengthen, the screech owl occasionally glances skyward as it maintains its vigil with half open eyes, waiting patiently for darkness and the beginning of its nocturnal prowl.