No Pygmy Owl fledgling captured by D6 / 180-400VR

Sharon and I first went to Madera Canyon back in 1982 to see the amazing hummingbirds that come to this summer Shangri-la. All the regular North American species make an appearance along with some of the finest from south of the border. It is a birder’s paradise that many don’t know even exists. There are many other unique, special, and rare species of birds that come to the canyon in the summer as well like the Elegant Trogan. And as long as I have been journeying there, the smallest owl in North America, the Elf Owl has nested in a telephone pole at Santa Rita Lodge. Over the years we’ve also had Whiskered, Western Screech, Spotted, and Flammulated Owl in the canon. At night, you hear them seemingly everywhere. But this year, there was a first for us, a Northern Pygmy Owl!

No Pygmy Owl fledgling captured by D6 / 180-400VR

One of my friends shooting there ran into another photographer who was watching and photographing the Pygmy Owl (owl is smaller than a dollar bill) nest. He was doing everything right which was so nice to see. Anyways, our friend Pat come back and reported what he learned. It was cool to hear about but since the other photographer was there first and had been working the nest for weeks, I just put it in the back of my mind. Days later, Sharon & I went for a walk birding and ended up down in the area where the photographer had been shooting. We had no idea where the nest was located so kept on birding. After a short time, I saw a small puffball trying to fly and land on a large branch. I knew instantly who it was (we use to rehab owls and had a Pygmy for months). Baby owls are first hatchlings then nestlings then branchlings and finally fledglings. We later learned that two of the three chicks became fledglings that morning. For the next five hours, we watched and photographed the two as they mostly slept on various branches and did silly baby owl stuff. Shortly before dark the parents came in with a freakin large lizard and fed the two chicks. It was a great afternoon and I was pleased to not only learn something new about the owls of Madera Canyon, but photograph them too. Whoooo knew?

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