Another outing was at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum where my good friend Joshua Smith and I were invited to do the Global Big Day Count. Josh and I decided that we don't get the freedom of birding without limits so we went all out and did 30+ hours of birding (with a full 24 hour day of birding). Although we observed over 80 species of bird (a record high count for the BTA) the highlight of the day, or should I say night, was the owls! Once darkness fell we heard some interesting calls from down in a creek. We followed the calls and then spotted one of the few animals giving these interesting mammal-like calls.
Mystery bird with the moon behind it
Once we turned on the flashlights we were greeted by a whole family of Western Screech-Owls!
Three fledglings and two adults were within this short stretch of creek. The fledglings were continuously calling while the adults hunted for their hungry kids!
One of the adults even brought a mouse to one of the younglings!
Western Screech-Owl--juvenile with mouse
Is it just me or does that owl look like a fierce lion with its prized catch?!
Or better yet, it was like watching Jurassic Park! Mr. Western Screech-Owl bid us farewell as we continued with our owling.
Continuing with our scouting we observed an Elf Owl who made an appearance for a couple minutes before never being detected again.
Before long the sun had risen and we were done with our first night/morning of owling. Racking up some nice birds like a young male Indigo Bunting we enjoyed the daylight hours of the count too! Before the long darkness had fallen yet again and we still needed Elf Owl for the official count. As we hiked through a wash we could hear a pair of Elf Owls calling in the distance. We hiked towards the sound of the calling birds and didn't only find them but found them at their nest!
Seeing an ELOW in a saguaro cactus was something I've always wanted to observe. And this female was very cooperative!
My next owing expedition brought me to Organ Pipe National Monument to check up on some Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls. While birding hard with Walker Noe about a month ago, we found a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl nest. Since then I have been out studying these birds and observing this rare and endangered type of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. When I arrived at the undisclosed location it didn't take me long to hear a male giving his contact calls. Following the bird around, he finally stood still and posed for photos.
When hunting, FEPOs move around a lot usually not staying on a perch for too long. However, we caught this male while he was ready to get to sleep and he stayed perched on the same branch for a good fifteen or twenty minutes!
The owl then decided it was time to do something productive and started hunting.
The owl then started flying from saguaro to saguaro. I recognized that the bird did the same thing last time before flying into its cavity never to come out again. Well sure enough the FEPO did the same thing this time! Luckily we were able to snap some photos before he left.
From desert owling I went up too the Chiricahua Mountains with Joshua Smith where we birded hard and did some owling. The purpose of us going to the Chiricahua Mountains was to attend a young birders camp which was...well, interesting. Nonetheless, I birded with some awesome people and saw some awesome birds! Throughout the camp Joshua Smith, and an awesome young birder who was at camp the year before Dorian, and I killed it and saw over 120 species of birds! Here's a photo of us birding hard!
Left to right: Me, Joshua, and Dorian
Once darkness fell on the first night we went out in hopes of seeing Whiskered Screech-Owls. I knew of some areas to look but the camp wanted to do their own thing, so I just went with the crowd. We ended up seeing a Whiskered Screech-Owl but there weren't any good photo ops, however, the camp allowed us to owl a little later than the rest of the group. It didn't take us long to find a WHSO on a great perch!
Throughout the trip I had another chance at crushing Whiskered Screech-Owls, and I did...hard! It was also cool seeing a Whiskered Screech-Owl with so much rufousish/brown coloring in his plumage! Down in Central America there are brown morphed WHSOs so this bird likely had some brown morph genes.
We followed a pair of WHSOs around the area and observed them interacting and working together.
Now I know that most of you are already on owl-overload but I have one more owl to show you! This was an owl which I, embarrassingly, have not crushed...until the other day! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you some die-hard Northern Pygmy-Owl crushes!
Oh yes crushing the Northern Pygmy-Owl has been a long delayed task. One might ponder what could be better than crushing one NOPO. Well, crushing several NOPOs of course!!!
Northern Pygmy-Owl--adult in foreground and fledgling in background
Words can't really serve these birds justice so I will leave you with these...
There you go, that covers most of my owling which I have done this spring, I hope you all enjoyed!
God Bless and BIRD HARD!!!