Three Burrowing Owls at Zanjero Park in Gilbert, 4/28/12.
The Desert Rivers Audubon chapter, the Town of Gilbert and Wild at Heart have partnered to develop a new Burrowing Owl habitat at Zanjero Park. This site is intended as a home for relocated/rescued Burrowing Owls. It also has perimeter burrows for local Burrowing Owls, or perhaps for the offspring of the relocated inhabitants.
This morning, the tent sheltering 5 male and 5 female BOs was removed after several weeks' acclimation period. It is hoped that these owls will pair up and make the man-made burrows their permanent homes. Already, one pair has an egg in a burrow, based on a videoscoping report. But at this point, human interventions recede and the owls are mainly to be observed.
I went to the park at sunset this evening for my first visit, expecting other owl nerds to be there, but I had the place all to myself! With my trusty 70-300mm zoom, I was able to get photos from the path without getting too close to the owls. Still, they were obviously aware of my presence.
Hopefully, as they become more accustomed to their new digs, they will feel safe to move about their habitat more. It's a lovely little desert park. And their burrows are very functional, but not terribly photogenic!
Townsend's Warbler at Coon Bluff along the Salt River, 4/27/12.
I believe this is my first sighting ever of a Townsend's Warbler, and its unfamiliar song drew my attention before I spotted it. It stayed high in the mesquite trees, so this is my best shot of the full bird, good enough to verify the ID.
Gambel's Quail female on the back fence, through the window on this gloomy afternoon, 4/25/12.
Although I've heard reports that quail babies have been spotted elsewhere in the Phoenix area, I haven't seen any yet in our neighborhood. But they should be appearing in the next month or so. Meanwhile, I love seeing the delicate beauty of the quail females, so elegant compared to their flashy mates.
Green-tailed Towhee along the Wildflower Trail at Desert Botanical Garden, 4/24/12.
Green-tails are another species that induce me to stand and watch, hoping one will finally pop out of the shadows long enough for its beautiful coloring and markings to be captured and appreciated.
This one stayed in the shade, but you can see from its surroundings how well nature has colored it to blend into its preferred foraging grounds under trees and shrubs. If not for its quick hopping dance, it might well go unnoticed.
Mom Vermilion Flycatcher feeding her babies, Coon Bluff, 4/22/12.
This is the nest where the mom was weaving in fishing line last week. I hope it's well buried so the babies don't get caught in it.
As I was taking photos, I couldn't even see the tiny beaks, but Dad Vermilion had been bringing bugs to Mom so I knew she was feeding them. (Binocs vs camera? Photos come first!)
This photo also shows how well-camouflaged the female appears when on the nest -- her orange tummy color is hidden from view, and her back & head color blends with the tree bark. Mother Nature is pretty clever.