Monday, June 6, 2016

Diurnal Desert Owling

I'm not going to say too much in this post.  The pictures can tell it all.  Recently, I went owling in the day with some friends.  I wanted to enjoy some fantastic views and scenery of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument as well as try and find some of it's owls.  Whether the birds are present or not, the views of this area are worth the trip alone.

Luckily, it didn't take very long for our most wanted bird, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, to come into play.  Yes, I've already seen this owl for TOBY and have seen this owl well, but the fact is, this owl is great and it was only the 3rd time I have seen it.  Out of the three times I've seen it, I have to say this time was the best.  Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a big area, and to find this owl somewhere within the big area is incredible to experience.  For the fun to get started, one has to spy the owl first.

This owl can be enjoyed from a respectable distance and will sit on exposed perches at times too.  For a short amount of time, stunning visuals of this owl were enjoyed as it moved to a few different perches.

All owls come with a wide range of facial expressions..

You gotta love a cooperative owl.

Like Northern Pygmy-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl has "eyes" at the back of it's head.  This prevents this bird from being preyed upon.  The larger predator will think the effort would be worthless because the owl already sees the potential problem.  For an often diurnal owl that is usually crepuscular, survival is huge and hunting during the day is often needed.

This owl was actively hunting in during the time that it was observed.

As I've grown up mainly being accustomed to Northern Pygmy-Owls in coniferous forests, it's still interesting to me to see a Pygmy-Owl in the desert.

There are two subspecies in Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.  The one we have here in Arizona is the "Cactus" Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and it is well named because of it's saguaro cactus dominated desert habitat preference.  The Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is also listed as endangered in Arizona.  This bird used to have a range that even extended north of Phoenix.  It's decline over the years has been rapid, but some spots in Arizona hold great habitat and decent numbers of the birds.  To close out the observation, it was very neat to see this owl perch up on a cactus before it retired from it's daytime hunting.  With this species, seeing it on a cactus was something that I've always wanted to observe for myself in the wild.


  1. Crushed it Tommy! Your photos of the "eyes" are amazing! Godspeed and good owling.

    1. Thank you Josh! I got very lucky out there with this owl!