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Nature Photography - Done Naturally

Elf Owl

Micrathene whitneyi

As I type this, I'm in a "photographic rut". It seems I often go many, many weeks without getting any "good" photos.  Every once in awhile, however, you have a trip where the photography gods are smiling upon you. This is another "favorite" photo from a 2008 trip to the American Southwest.  We were at our favorite B&B on the edge of Tucson, next to the east unit of Saguaro National Park, when I did what I do every morning on such a vacation...get up to walk around at dawn while my wife and son slept.  It's the perfect time on vacations to get in some birding and photography.  On this morning, I was walking the beautiful, 40-acre grounds of the B&B, looking for typical Sonoran Desert habitat birds. From the day before, I knew there were Elf Owls nesting in the could hear them! The B&B owners knew the big Saguaro that likely held the nest, so I slowly sauntered in that direction, not really actually expecting to SEE an Elf Owl.

To my surprise, as I approached the saguaro, this little fellow came flying in and landed in a bush right in front of me!  I don't know who was more surprised!  For a couple of minutes, he just sat there like this, staring me down as if to say "why are YOU by my nest hole?!?!?".  At first I was literally too close for the camera to focus (my 400mm lens has a minimum focusing distance of about 12.5 feet), so I actually had to slowly back off a few steps to grab some photos.  After a little while, he got bored with me, and flew up to a hole in the Saguaro and disappeared. Serendipity and luck...two factors you can NEVER have enough of while doing bird photography!

Elf Owl - Micrathene whitneyi

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