Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Land of the Burrowers

On June 18th, 2014, I woke up and went to Gilbert, Arizona.  My destination was a park called Zanjero Park.  I had never been to this park before prior to today, and there really isn't too much of a draw here if there wasn't a cool bird around.  And that cool bird is the Burrowing Owl!

At Zanjero Park, the local Desert Rivers Audubon Society has made homes for the Burrowing Owls.  Life out in the wild has been made a lot easier for ten or so Burrowing Owls that call Zanjero home.  As I walked up along the path of the park, one of the male Burrowing Owls was very aggressive towards me.  He always had an angry look on his face.  He even buzzed my head a few times.

And he wasn't a force to be reckoned with....

While the others weren't aggressive, I wouldn't call them welcoming either.  

I think Burrowing Owls are awesome, and I've seen hundreds of them in my life.  Although I could see many half of the distance away in southwest Phoenix as compared to here in Gilbert, I had a "target" Burrowing Owl.  Fellow birder Bernie Howe recently photographed three fledgling Burrowing Owls here at the park.  Despite seeing so many Burrowing Owls, I still had not seen a young bird.  It would be a "plumage lifer", and for owls, that's pretty darn cool!  As I walked through the park and along the Burrowing Owl homes, it didn't take me long to find the baby owls.  One of them was just getting up for the day!

Here is the mother Burrowing Owl of three fledglings.  She has been banded for research.  She was very active throughout the morning.  The fledglings would often follow her around, or would wine in her direction.  She never seized to stay nearby to the owlets.

And for the most part, my target Burrowing Owls were very cooperative for me.  It's very fun to watch this bird at it's stage of it's life.  It does fly for very short distances.  But other than that, it usually prefers to walk and hop along the ground.  When the mother owl flew across the path, Burrowing Jr. would walk across the path to get a view of his mothers perch.  Or perhaps, to get a view of what she was catching him for breakfast.  

As a young owl, there is always something to complain about....

For a good hour and a half, I enjoyed watching these young owls.  The trip was very worth it!

The young owls were also very cooperative the entire time, and they didn't show a lot of fear.  A few times, I got down on the ground to get eye level with the small owls.

Now, there are three young Burrowing Owls in this family.  The young ones seemed to get along quite well, and I didn't notice sibling rivalry to be too much of an issue!

The next set of pictures shows more to the three young Burrowing Owls.  They are curious little birds who have a lot of energy throughout the day!

With Burrowing Owl features like this, this park certainly has a wow factor.  Other than the owls, I was approached by this obliging and curious Greater Roadrunner.  It's not everyday you'll see a Roadrunner like this, which rarely happens for this close and this long.

Another awesome morning to be out birding!


  1. Tommy - you got some awesome pics from the morning at Zanjero! It was great to meet you! Sue

    1. Thanks Sue! It was great to meet you and photograph the Owls with you. They sure are a lot of fun to watch!

  2. Wow Tommy, those are the best crushes of juvie Burrowers I've ever seen!

    Also, the new website header is totally rad!

  3. Thanks Laurence,

    I think they are obviously going to stick around for awhile too! You'll have to go and crush them too when you get back. I had a blast taking photos of them, it was very worth the drive. My next goal is to get a decent look and photo of a Flam, whether in the little pine stand at Slate Creek or in Prescott of Flagstaff.

    Thanks too for the website header comment! I looked at that picture and the idea came to mind, and I thought it would be a lot better then what I previously had up. The Spotted Owls in Miller are to thank, they are beyond awesome.

  4. What a fun series of photos! It sounds like it was a fun morning.

    1. Thanks Josh! It was a very fun morning of watching the Burrowers. I was very fortunate with how cooperative they were for me!