Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Elf Owl Photos

Photography by Terry Sohl

My Favorite: An experience I will never forget! One of my favorite places on Earth was the "Hacienda del Desierto", a B&B on the edge of Saguaro National Park. They had their own 40ish acres of wonderful Sonoran habitat that was always just so, so full of life. Our little family stayed there several times and enjoyed every moment. Outside one of the rooms where we stayed was the biggest Saguaro on the property, with a number of nesting holes in it. The owners stated that Elf Owls sometimes nested there, as well as at other saguaros on the property.

I never saw an Elf Owl on that Saguaro, but one evening just after sunset we arrived back at the B&B, and I heard what had to be an Elf Owl. The call came from near the Hacienda, and I could see a very tall saguaro in the direction location. I kept that in mind, meaning to go out the next morning before dawn and camp out by it, hoping to get a glimpse of an Elf Owl.

It's not often in life that your plans work out, but my master Elf Owl plan worked out better than I could have ever dreamed! I got up before dawn, and set up shop relatively close to the tall saguaro. There were a number of nesting holes, so clearly something had used the cactus, but were there Elf Owls? It didn't take long to find out!  After about 10 minutes, something flew in from behind me and landed in the brush 20 feet to my left. As I turned to look, what was staring back at Elf Owl!! An Elf Owl that REALLY didn't know what to make of me! It took a few seconds of just staring at each other before I realized I'd better start taking photos, as I may never get this opportunity! With the first click of the camera, the owl made a little hop to the adjacent bush...but it didn't leave!  More photos...another hop or two while it checked me out, and then it disappeared into a nesting hole high on the saguaro.  That was the last I saw of it! But I got the  handful of photos below, and even better, got a birding memory I'll never forget.

Elf Owl - Micrathene whitneyi 

Elf Owl 1 - Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl 2 - Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl 3 - Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl 4 - Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl 1 

Elf Owl 2

Elf Owl 3

Elf Owl 4

May 7th, 2008

May 7th, 2008

May 7th, 2008

May 7th, 2008

Near Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Near Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Near Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Near Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Full body of Elf Owl at close range, with direct eye contact

Close head and upper body portrait, with direct eye contact with camera

Adult Elf owl in Sonoran Desert brush, with profile view 

Adult bird perched on a branch, looking directly at the camera

Elf Owl 5 - Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl 6 - Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl 5

Elf Owl 6

May 7th, 2008

May 7th, 2008

Near Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Near Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Adult Elf Owl perched on a thick branch, starting into camera (vertical)

Adult bird profile, perched on a log in Sonoran Desert habitat

Click here for the species description page for the Elf Owl

All photos copyrighted!  Click for information on commerical usage, or usage for other personal purposes.

Nature Photography - Done Naturally - Click for info

 Use the following Google dialogue to search this South Dakota Birds and Birding site:
Custom Search


Please mail any comments/suggestions/additional links for this page to: Terry L. Sohl