Category Archives: Phoenix

Who?

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Burrowing Owls, that’s who. Burrowing owls are small (9 inch tall), day-active birds that live in the abandoned burrows of ground squirrels and other mammals. They are highly social and eat primarily insects and mice. Once common in the Phoenix valley, these birds are disappearing rapidly due to development. Oftentimes, developers are not even aware that there are burrows and they excavate over them. Fortunately, the birds can be trapped and successfully relocated to safe sites; however, these sites are becoming increasingly rare (Downtown Owls).

The City of Phoenix, along with Wild at Heart and Audubon Arizona (funded by Toyota TogetherGreen) have been relocating these displaced owls for the last couple of years in the Rio Salado Restoration Habitat Area. Volunteers build burrows out of PVC pipes and 5 gallon buckets for them, and they are gradually re-introduced into their new burrows.

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We went to see the owls this weekend with our friend, Lawrence Polk, Parks Special Operations Supervisor, for the City of Phoenix, and we got a guided tour of the burrows, which are on a bluff overlooking the Salt River. Each burrow is covered over with rocks to protect it and has a perching post outside.

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The birds are not very shy but you are not supposed to get within 15 feet of them. The burrowing owl is federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Mexico. In Arizona, they are considered a Species of Concern.

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Turkey Vulture

They are always on the lookout for any possible danger. I thought maybe the hawk, above, was scoping out the owls but, later, when I looked at my photos, I realized it was a Turkey Vulture, looking for carrion, so the owls weren’t in danger from him.

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We saw several of the owls and I took about 150 photos but they all kind of look about the same, I noticed, so I won’t show you all of them.

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There are a few other locations in the area where new habitats for the owls are being built, including Zanjero Park in Gilbert.

Abuzz and Abloom

Cactus Flower and Bees Everyone and everything was abuzz and abloom the other morning at the Desert Botanical Garden. It seemed to be The Happiest Place on  Earth. Click on photos for more detail.

Isn’t this guy the epitome of happiness?

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European Starling

Thrasher

Curve-Billed Thrasher

Finch Boy

It was a flying finch frenzy.

Finch Girl

House Finch, male and female

Desert Spiny Lizard

Desert Spiny Lizard

Sparrow Fly

House Sparrow, male

Dfly

Blue Dasher

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Cactus Wren, the Arizona State Bird

Quail

Gambel’s Quail, male

And I got 2 lifers!!!! This little posing bird:

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Gnatcatcher

Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher, male

And another lifer, that I’ve been searching for:

Phain Boy

Phainopepla, male

Phain Girl 3

Phainopepla, female

Gila on Saguaro

Gila Woodpecker

Squirrel Eating

Antelope Squirrel

Yellow Cactus Flower

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

Cactus Color

The desert is glorious in spring and the best is yet to come…

Spring at Papago

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Green Heron

Cooper's 2

Cooper's 6

Cooper's

Sharp-Shinned or Cooper’s Hawk (hard to distinguish)

Gallinule

Common Gallinule

Pond Slider

Red-Eared Pond Slider

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Egret 2

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Great Egret

Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-Necked Duck

Grebe 3

Grebe

Pied-Billed Grebe

Flicker 2

Northern Flicker

Cactus Flower

Green Heron

I spent the first day of spring at Papago Park and made a brief visit to the Desert Botanical Garden, which is in the park. Not much luck there as it was later in the day and packed with people but the ponds at the park made for a decent day of birding. I have a 3-day weekend and I’m planning to go shooting somewhere everyday. More photos to come, I hope…

Happy Spring!

An Egret Study

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On the same cloudy and rainy day that I got the first 2 photos in my last 2 posts (Flicker, Goose), I was able to hang out with this Great Egret at my favorite park, Granada. It’s the first time I’ve seen an egret at that particular park and, as I was leaving a little later, I saw this one and a buddy head back to the lake.

Crop Face

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I never get tired of watching egrets (and herons) even though they are fairly commonplace and I especially like when one lets me close to it for awhile. Well, until they get skittish or annoyed and take off.

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Chomp

CHOMP! Okay, not really, no ducks were harmed or eaten and he/she wasn’t even trying to get the duck, just an optical illusion…but entertaining.

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This egret is in full breeding plumage. More than 95 percent of the Great Egrets in North America were killed for their plumes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Plume-hunting was banned, for the most part, around 1910, and Great Egret populations quickly began to recover.

The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers.

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Super Bowl o’ Birds

The Excitement Builds…

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Corm Fly

Neotropic Cormorant

Killdeers

Killdeers

Grackle Boy

Grackle, male

Grackle Girl

Grackle, female

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House Finch, male

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American Kestrel, male

Girls Mallards

Mallards, females

Inca

Inca Dove

Mock

Northern Mockingbird, the cheerleading captain

Mallard Bathing 2

Mallard, male

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Mallard, female

Quail

Gambel’s Quail, male

Wigeons

American Wigeons, male and female

Light Mallard 2

Mallard hybrid, female

Mallard Girl

Mallard hybrid, female

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Verdin

Dove

Mourning Dove

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House Sparrow, female

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House Sparrow, male

Mallard

Mallard, male

Orange Crowned Warbler

Orange-Crowned Warbler

Hum Autumn 2

Anna’s Hummingbird, female

Red Winged BB

Red-Winged Blackbird

Squirrel Superbowl

And a cute little ground squirrel

everyone’s a winner!

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