apologies for the small photo. I realized just now you can't click on it to zoom in. I seemed to be able to last night, but not now. Here is a close-up of the body of the owl where I'm getting confused.
I really have to believe I'm looking at this all wrong. In the area where the arrow is pointing, it doesn't look like the stitches are "joining" (I guess you could say). It looks like one thread color stops in a square and the thread directly above starts in the square above, rather than in the same square.
As a reference, most bargello needlepoint charts I've seen online look like this:
this shows the stitches starting/ending in the same square.
The reason I don't know if I can do it the "right" way is because any stitches next to those that aren't the same length won't match the chart and line up correctly. Ugh...I'm sorry...I realize I'm being completely confusing right now!