Bird #264 — Barn Owl

tyto (owl) alba (white)

Saturday, March 31, 1984 — 1:45 pm

Tucson, Arizona — Tucson Sewage Ponds

My guide to birding in Arizona said that this spot couldn’t miss, but when we arrived I was a bit confused as to why.  This great spot consisted of two very small ponds, one with a tiny, heavily-wooded island.  A few ducks of various familiar species were swimming about, looking out of place in the desert, but things didn’t look terribly exciting.

It was my wife who spotted a strange white bird flying from one of the large cottonwoods that ringed the pond to another one closer to us. It was followed closely by what I think was a Cooper’s Hawk.  I had a good idea the white bird was a Barn Owl. As we walked closer, the hawk took off and the owl flew back to the original tree then to the island where it disappeared into thick evergreens.

I didn’t get more than a glimpse because of the cottonwoods.  They were large and covered a lot of area.  We circled the pond hoping for a better view.  After several minutes, the Barn Owl flew out and landed on an open perch in one of the big cottonwoods along the other pond.  I got a great view with my scope, but not a long one.  I was just settling in to look when a man drove up in a pickup and told us we had to leave.  Seems there is no birding at the sewage ponds on weekends.  Now there’s a law for you.  Who’s the idiot that came up with that one?  Are they afraid someone will steal the sewage?

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