I went with my friend, Norman Dong (who is avidly into herps), this
afternoon to explore a very shady area in the Phoenix Mountains close to a
parking lot. Out of a quick hike I got my first ever look at a WESTERN
SCREECH-OWL! I have heard Western Screech-Owls plenty of times, but this
afternoon I finally tore that wall down with a perched owl right in front
of me. We were able to get about six feet away from the bird without it
spooking, which was perched up on rocks in a small and shady cave area.
We watched the bird thirty minutes or so and walked away from the Screech-
Owl still perched in the same spot. My first look at this bird was what
I've always wanted, an open view without any branches in the way. I'd
call the owl an "official lifer" now! I guess we all have overdue birds,
I have my share.
Another standout highlight in the cave was another lifer for me, only from
the reptile department, a TIGER RATTLESNAKE. It was coiled up peacefully
just below the owl. We didn't want to spook the owl, so we enjoyed the
snake at a further distance at ten feet away. Birding/herping in a shady
cave makes any summer day bearable!