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 small, 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 Sally who spotted a strange white bird flying from one of the large cottonwoods that ringed the pond to another one closer to us. (Sal frequently spots birds before I do, and she enjoys it tremendously.) 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 good law for you. Who’s the idiot that came up with that one? Are they afraid someone will steal the sewage?