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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Exciting new oasis species

Visiting the oasis is like opening a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Today I impulsively decided to go down the main arroyo to where a male Lucifer Hummingbird has defended a feeding territory in previous years to see if he was there this year. (He wasn't.) As I turned to go back my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of an owl diving into a bush in the arroyo below the trail I was on. I figured the odds of me getting a photo were zero, but I was carrying my Canon, so scrambled down the steep bank to flush it from the bush. I knew it was larger than an Elf Owl and smaller than a Great Horned. That was it. I'm not able to ID owls without a photo. Burrowing Owl crossed my mind as a possibility. And after having built a complex array of underground nests and tunnels ten years ago, you would think I had been expecting that species to show up. But I built it just in case, not expecting it. Here's a photo taken ten year ago of the "owl hill" with its dozen tunnels.

After so many years I was convinced by what I had learned that my place isn't a place they would nest. And I still believe that. However, today I added the species to the oasis list. Probably a migrant passing through, but at least it's more likely they know the nesting tunnels are there... just in case. Today the hill is overgrown and somewhat damaged by animals and nature, but still usable.

When I flushed the unknown owl from the bush it flew a short ways down the arroyo. Certain it was hopeless, I, nevertheless, made my way to the spot where I had last seen it and this is what I spied.

A Burrowing Owl perched on a rock in the middle of the dry stream bed. What a lucky fluke! Even that I went down the arroyo in the first place. And carried my heavy Canon besides. And that the owl and I were there at the same time. And the biggest fluke of all was that the owl paused briefly on that rock before continuing down the arroyo. No photo, no ID. I wasted no time in zooming the telephoto lens and capturing this shot before he disappeared again.


  1. Being "in the right place at the right time" leaves us birders with so many wonderful memories. Glad you caught that movement and had your camera handy. Great shot!

    Carla in Rowlett, TX