Elf Owls in Saguaro National Park

Guest post by Dan Weisz

I participated in an Elf Owl survey conducted by Tucson Audubon this weekend in the Saguaro National Park. This survey is part of the IBA (Important Bird Area) Program at Tucson Audubon monitoring birds of greatest conservation concern (tucsonaudubon.org/iba).

Elf Owl by Jeremy Hayes

We walked one of the trails in Saguaro National Park East stopping every 200 feet, listening for owls and documenting what we heard. Elf Owls are the smallest owls in the world and we did hear a few and also got a glimpse of one. Here is one of the sounds we were listening for: https://www.xeno-canto.org/21427/embed and here is information on Elf Owls: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/elfowl/overview 

In addition, we also heard many coyotes and quite a few Western Screech Owls.

Below are some of the evening’s highlights. All of the owls pictured are Western Screech Owls. I got shots of two different owls but we saw and heard many.

This second owl sat for the longest time for us.

And here is a nice video of a Western Screech Owl, sitting in mesquite tree and calling. in the Tucson area, you can hear this sound at night:

On the way back to the cars, we did a bit of backlighting and found a few smaller friends:

This scorpion is called a stripe-tailed scorpion.  You can see the black stripes on the underside of his tail.  This is the most common scorpion in our area.