This little Elf Owl and several of its friends have been working their magic at the Desert Botanical Garden this week, challenging birders and photographers to spot them roosting during the day along the upright trunks of this densely-leaved Acacia tree.
This is only the second time Elf Owls have been seen at DBG in about 5 years, according to veteran DBG birders. For many of us, these were our first sightings, and most of us quickly fell under their spell.
Elf Owls are the smallest owls in the US, only about 5 1/2 inches tall... about the size of a sparrow, even smaller than my hand!
A birder at the DBG first spotted them in the Wildflower Garden several weeks ago. Last Monday, we saw four in this tree along the main trail, but fewer were seen on subsequent days. This is their migration season, so they'll soon head to central Mexico, and return to Arizona next March to prepare for breeding.
I feel pretty lucky to have had the chance to observe and photograph these magical little creatures this week.