Owl, Spotted and NotBy
Scheelite Canyon is one of the loveliest places in southeast Arizona, quiet and dim, just the place for a walk on a warm afternoon.
Most birders come here not for the relaxation, however, but for a chance at some of our area’s most famous individual birds. The Spotted Owls of Scheelite Canyon have been reliably delighting feather fans now for a human generation.
Tom and I looked for the species in Miller Canyon yesterday morning, after scoring our major targets in the form of Lucifer and White-eared Hummingbirds. Alas, the owls in Miller were their usual reclusive selves, and even with precise directions to Saturday’s roosting tree, we failed to find them, contenting ourselves instead with Red-faced and Virginia’s Warblers and hopes of running across the owls farther north, in Scheelite.
All the way up to the waterfall pools we peered and peeked, hoping to abstract from the trees that part that was not tree but owl. No luck. We’d had a full three days already, with plenty of uphill and downhill, so decided not to continue onto the higher, steeper, hotter portion of the trail but to head back down to the car and count ourselves lucky at all the birds we had found. And, just in case, to keep our eyes open as we went back down canyon.
And of course, there sat our bird.
We’d walked within ten feet of the snoozing beauty on the way up, our view blocked by the tree trunk. What had been invisible on the way up was unmissable on the way down, and we paused briefly to admire this rare and splendid bird, leaving it then to concentrate on its nap.