Several years ago, my photographer companion and I received an unlikely tip for locating one of our sought-after birds: the Burrowing Owl. Heading to the Festival of the Cranes near Socorro, New Mexico, we were told to check out the vacant lot next to McDonald’s. We were skeptical, but because viewing owls up close is a rare opportunity, we decided the chance might be worth it.
Upon finding the lot between the freeway and McDonald’s, we moved cautiously until circled by burrows and prepared to wait. Before we even set up the first owl emerged from its den. Alternately, bobbing up and down, the staring at us intently, the owl seemed more curious than threatened by these intruders near its home. Moments later, it took off, swooping to another mound only to disappear again.
While this routine was repeated several more times, another owl across the lot kept us in constant sight, its head just above ground level. At times it would all but disappear into its lair, only to pop up a moment later.
That afternoon, we saw six owls ( or two using a subway ), a gopher that showed up once, and a Say’s Phoebe fly-catching for its dinner and our pleasure.
Hardly a vacant lot.
Joanna M Linsley
( Joanna Linsley-Poe )
First published in The Lister’s Forum in Wild Bird, August 1999.
Oh and my photographer companion became my husband a few years later.
The photos are from google images
All photos are from google images