On my first full day back at the Grand Canyon for another winter, after four months of big-sitting, Anne and I hiked down from the Bright Angel into Indian Gardens and out onto the Tonto to check out the unique world of birds living between the rim and river.
Nothing too notable on the way down, except perhaps the almost total lack of birds, song, etc… When at last we reached Indian Gardens, we found Victoria Allen and her guests at the cabins. I’d previously asked Vicki to look for owls if she had the time, and to our surprise she had seen an owl. Northern Pygmy, I assumed, or maybe Saw-whet?
“It was about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle.”
Upon hearing this, we immediately rushed to the spot where the owl had been spotted, and there, roosting, was a beautiful Mexican Spotted Owl!
Spotted Owls are year-round residents in the Canyon, but not always easy to find. Though I walked past this owl’s tree every day for a couple of months last winter, I never saw a Spotted Owl there, nor anywhere else. Since a visit made to Zion NP several years ago, we’ve consistently failed to find Spotted Owls every chance we’ve looked, so this was a welcome ABA#558 for me (525? For Anne)!
Other cool birds of the day included a Hammond’s Flycatcher (same location where a HAFL over wintered last year – same bird?), a couple of Marsh Wrens hanging out on the red rocks, some Lincoln’s Sparrow’s, and some hand-fed Rufous-crowned Sparrows.