Friday, March 18, 2016

It Just Won't Die

Lazarus has nothing on Butler's Birds when it comes to resurrections. A month since the last post, we are at it again, but not in the normal diurnal pursuit of birds that culminates in a pleasant morning's jaunt. With work and other obligations seeming to multiply during the day, this week B's Bs drug its zombie bones back from the dusty crypt of inactive blogs and out into preternaturally warm March ebon along the Salt River. Here one finds the seemingly oxymoronic combination of lush desert vegetation, of riparian growth amid an arid landscape.

This is prime location for breeding Elf Owls later in the spring and summer, but even before their coming it is a great spot for lycanthropic prowls, with the removal from city lights and sandy mesquite washes providing nocturnal birding via residential and early-arriving species that perpetuate their cacophonous societies only after sundown. Here is the Phoenix nightlife.   
Near the Salt River shoreline, the constant caterwauling of leopard frogs (maybe some other species) is occasionally perforated by the plaintive intonations of Common Poorwills. When the moon is out in reflective force they forage well into the night, flying with the sporadic bursts of an insect and yet with decided purpose. They hunt prodigiously both from low perches and from the ground.


Some of the other fauna, like the Arizona Toad, come directly out of the ground after long periods of inactivity--Butler's Birds can relate to this very much.

 

Prior to Elf Owl arrival (and probably even after) Western Screech-Owls have the most widespread and vocal presence along the Salt River. In more favorable mesquite groves it's not uncommon to find three or more Owls counter-calling, ordinarily hidden within the brushy foliage but exposed in their silhouettes by the pervasive moonlight.
Although they're 60% larger than Elf Owls, the WESOs can still be tricky to pick out of a mesquite thicket, even when vocalizing. Once spotted, they are often cooperative.


Western Screech-Owls pale in comparison to their tufted cousin, the Great Horned, relative to size and ferocity, but as they hunt reptiles, mammals, insects, fledgling birds, and even fish, they are in a way one of the most encompassing and successful predators in the area, and more of the Sonoran fauna have reason to fear the WESO silent wing beats and eternal watch than they do the Great Horns, Coyotes, and Bobcats. Butler's Birds does not fear though, because Butler's Birds is, obviously, undead.

15 comments:

  1. Damn. I've never seen Western Screech-Owl that well, let alone crushed one into oblivion. I also haven't laid eyes on a poorwill in years. Your emergence from the ground looks very worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That toad and I have more in common than is polite or tasteful to admit.
      Th AZ nocturnal offerings are pretty solid. Birders really should have more slumber parties.

      Delete
  2. Nice photos! That poorwill is great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Caleb. That's been like 6 years in the waiting/making.

      Delete
  3. Well, I am glad you got to go out and bird. It was nice seeing your name on the Listerv. Life has a way of being a pain with all the obligations. I guess I've given up on some of those obligations. Don't get me wrong, I do them. But you can't take away my birding. I rationalize it as a "work out". People who need to stay healthy say they MAKE time out of their busy schedules to go to the gym. Not me. Yuck. Working out is a good idea, but birding is better:) Hang in there and nice work on your night out. I love the Nightjar family A LOT! I can't wait for them all to return again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear that. Photographing BCNJ is top of the 2016 to-do list.

      Delete
  4. Laurence?! Is it really you?

    Great to have you back man. Incredible owl and poorwill shots. Perhaps it'll work out we can team up a few times this year to do some owling for some of the more epic owls..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tommy,

      It's me really...definitely not an evil twin trying to take over Laurence's life...not at all...that's silly.

      I'd love to do some owl teaming! At the very least, we must join forces against Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. That bird is now a straight up nemesis for me, to the extent any range-limited endangered bird can be a nemesis.

      Delete
  5. Awesome photos of some great birds! The COPO is great! Hear them all the time, but have yet to visually see one a capture a photo. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gordon. Like I mentioned to Caleb, that has been my experience too, a COPO photos 6 years in the making/waiting!

      Delete
  6. Nice work, Lazarence. Those Owl shots are pretty great, but I'm of the opinion that the COPO shots win the internet this day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Josh.
      Now that I've won the internet for a day...muwahahaha.

      Delete
  7. Please tell me that you talk in everyday speech the same way that you write. And seconded, thirded, and fourthed with props for the WESO and COPO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Greg. I do. I'm not very popular.

      Delete
  8. Nice recap of a fun night out, Laurence. Fun images! I hope to have my annual encounter with Elf Owls when I visit my daughter and her family in the Phoenix area in early May.

    ReplyDelete