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.