That’s the Gods for You

In the Before Time we visited Zanjero Park every year to see the burrowing owls. As a wildlife viewing opportunity it was a bit artificial: The owls had been transplanted to this location by humans (from their own chosen location, now overcome by development by humans) into burrows created by humans. You may note the common factor.

Anyway, the park was adjacent to a big freeway for easy access by the aforementioned humans and to a farmer’s field for easy access to food by the also-mentioned owls, who seemed to ignore/tolerate the freeway in return for being able to hunt for small iggly-wigglies in the irrigated field. Over the years we reliably saw at least one owl on every visit.

Not this guy, mind you. He/she was in another farmer’s field. And not no more, this field having also given way to development, but just to give you an idea of why we bothered. Cute, eh?

Close-up of burrowing owl standing erectly and looking intently skyward.

Making the most of its 10 inches, max.

Anyway, we went to Zanjero Park again this year to, you know, see the owls. But not no more. Our visit produced not just no owl sightings, but no sight of on-site owl habitat. Zero, nada, zilch. The humans giveth and the humans taketh away, apparently. An online report said that the owls had been re-relocated to a new site, the location of which was being kept secret until the owls had settled in. So that was that.

No owls for you!

Discouraged, we came home and I filled the bird feeder which had been hanging empty. Within 10 minutes, we had a swarm of birds in the backyard. At the feeder. In the tree. On the fence. On the ground. Transiting between stations.

What birds did we have? We had rock pigeons, mourning doves, white-crowned sparrows, house finches, Abert’s twohees, and Gila woodpeckers. No surprises in any of that.

But we also had a whole flock of rosy-faced lovebirds, which are native to the dry woodlands of southwestern Africa. Just visiting, maybe? On student visas, perhaps? No, through casual escapes from captivity and the collapse of a local aviary in a storm, these unintentional-and-maybe-illegal immigrants have established a permanent local population.

And when the experts say local, they mean local. This is what I can see from the patio, and it’s a permanent sight just exactly as long as I keep the food coming.

The birdwatching gods may taketh away, but boy, they also giveth.


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8 Responses to That’s the Gods for You

  1. That’s upsetting about the owls, I remember them well from our visit down there. Great selection of birds coming to your feeder!!
    Neat about the Love Birds. We saw some in Tanzania a “few” years ago.
    You might want to look up the book: “Parrots of Telegraph Hill” by Mark Bittner. I think the movie of it available for streaming depending what networks/websites you have access to.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – I’m hoping the owls have “been found” a new home that works for them — apparently they’re not cheery relocators in general. I’ll check out the movie. Birds are always an excellent subject. 🙂

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Good for the rosy-faced lovebirds, being able to adapt to a drastically different environment. Ottawa in winter is somewhat different from the grasslands of Tanzania! Maybe birds general are better relocators than we give them credit for.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Well, they’ve adapted to Arizona, not Ontario. Still impressive – it’s not like they gradually worked up to, getting closer and closer by moving through adjacent and compatible habitats. It was just “wham!” – adapt or die. And they adapted.

  3. What cute rosy faces! You are really lucky.

    The local TV station had a report today of a couple of fellows who achieved their 2021 goal of photographing all 11 owls native to Alberta. They were thrilled with a twelfth owl – I think it was the burrowing owl native to eastern North America. They strongly cautioned anyone approaching an owl to be very quiet, because if their (daytime) sleep is disturbed, they are less efficient at hunting in the night. What I didn’t know yesterday.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – And me, too. Good to know. I’ve seen one or two great horned owls hanging out in trees here, and I just note them. I don’t tell anyone about them, figuring the fewer who know, the less the disturbance. Good to have that uninformed impulse validated.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    Owl be seeing you… not.

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