Well it took about a month and a half to decide, but the jury has finally reached a verdict on the best Butler Bird of the Year (also know as the B-BOY award, only slightly less famous than the Oscars). With close competition from Phainopeplas, a Townsends Warbler, and an inner city Lewis's Woodpecker, the award goes to...the Elf Owl!
This was certainly the most surprising sighting of the year, both because of the relatively uncommon and inconspicuous nature of the bird. I'm never really expecting to see Owls, which maybe explains why this and the Great Horned are the only two I've ever seen in the wild.
These tiny birds were hanging out at the Desert Botanical Gardens in September, and provided one of the best all-round birding experiences of my 2011 birding year. I'm definitely hoping to get some more owls this year, but I don't know if any of them will match this super fun sighting. Here's hoping!
See the full Elf Owl adventure recorded here