Sandhill Cranes

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I have never been much of a bird watcher, but being retired, and living in the ‘wilderness’ has made me so much more aware of the animals and birds around me that I ever was living in the big city going to work every day.

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There are so many interesting animals and birds out there, that I feel I have barely scratched the surface of being able to appreciate and identify the wide variety of species we have in AZ.

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The sandhill cranes are among the more interesting migrating birds that call AZ their temporary home.

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Then their are the snow geese that come for the summer – and I’m not talking about the east coasters that come in travel trailers and crowd Phoenix during Noreasters back home!

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Northern shovelers with their platypus-type bills are among some of the interesting ducks we have.

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Along with the pintail ducks that flock to our AZ lakes.

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At Whitewater Draw in southern AZ, you might find yourself saying ‘who?’ to any number of bird species in this small, confined riparian area that serves as home to a snow bird of another feather.

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Look, Snow

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We finally got a little snow…. not much, but enough to have the animals hunker down and get out of the wind and snow.  This little pygmy owl sat and gazed at the snow and watched it come in.  Any time we see some of the more ‘exotic’ and rare animals, we are thrilled… and this pygmy owl was no exception.

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Pygmy Owl

I put this photo on my kritterspaw.com site, but it bears repeating.

We saw what we thought was a little bird, huddled up on a branch.  It seemed roundish, as it shivered and squatted itself all together during our snow storm.  Then it turned and looked at me.  I couldn’t believe it.  It had that unmistakable face… it was an owl.  It wasn’t much bigger than a sparrow… maybe 4 – 5″ tall.

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How cool is that!

Apparently it’s a Pygmy Owl.  To be specific, a Northern Pygmy Owl.  The most common one I could find (in AZ) is from southern AZ (Tucson area). It has been on and off the endangered species list, with only 28 sightings in 2014…. none noted to be in Northern AZ.  It’s no wonder really… they are so small.

The pygmy owl eats insects, lizards, rodents, and small birds as large as itself.

I’d love for it to come back, but it may be a once in a life time sighting.  I’m so happy we saw it… and got a decent photo!