Last week we spent a few days visiting E’s family out in Arizona. Except for brief work trips to California and El Paso, Texas, I’ve spent very little time in the Western US, so it was a great treat for me to see this part of the country. I loved seeing all the different cacti and other plants out there. I also loved the birds!
First, the hummingbirds. These little things zipped around the backyard, zooming from one bush to another and making these weird half whistle, half chirp sounds.
Then, there were two sightings of a Gila woodpecker – one in the backyard, and then this one on a hike in the White Tank mountains. Both times there were pairs, calling back and forth from the tree tops:
There were numerous sightings of the cactus wren, which is Arizona’s state bird:
Then there was this house finch – we see these at our feeders back in Massachusetts, but this particular one kept giving me the eye…
Finally, an owl! nesting in a cactus! I’ve never actually seen an owl in the wild, just at zoos or wildlife refuges, so this was particularly cool.
FYI, his was a hard shot to get – the cactus is a lot taller than it looks here, and that owl was snuggled right down in the nest. We hiked up a little bit past the cactus and, standing on my tippy toes as I balanced the camera on E’s shoulder, I was able to zoom in at the maximum level my camera allows. Here’s another picture, this time just of his eyes and ears:
It’s hard to tell in the picture below, but that big cactus in the middle, with all of the different “limbs”, is where the owl’s nest sits. Widly grateful to our fellow hikers who told us about the nest, because otherwise it would have been easy to miss!