Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hummer, Hummer, Owl

Lucifer Hummingbird
After a windy night in Big Bend Rio Grande Village I woke to still and both Western Screech-Owls and Great Horned Owls calling. It didn't take me long to strike camp and get on the road. I headed to Carolyn Ohl's Christmas Mountain Oasis. I rolled into the CMO about 9:30 am and the Hummer Show was on in full force. It took only moments to get on a Lucifer Hummingbird for Year Bird 467. The CMO is an amazing place and I lingered enjoying the hummers, Varied Buntings and Scaled Quail.

Finally I headed to my next stop. One of the western members of the Secret Underground Birders (SUB), call him Mr. H had invited to to his bunker high in the Davis Mountains to maybe get a rare owl. Driving from the CMO to Alpine I saw a B1 Bomber flow low over the highway heading east and had to think to myself, "What has the president done now" and "I hope I make it to Mr. H's Bunker in time"

Magnificent Hummingbird
I met up with Mr. H and he had me load up my gear into his survival vehicle and we headed high up into the mountains, checking our mirrors frequently to make sure we weren't followed.

Owl thirty would not happen for a long time and we chatted bird things and rare hummingbirds. Before too long a Magnificent Hummingbird made and appearance for Year Bird 468.

Soon we where being serenaded by Mexican Whip-poor-wills and Common Poorwills.

We headed up the hill in the fading light. When we got to the right spot by Mr. H's reckoning we had to wait until it was full dark. Finally  Mr. H was satisfied with the darkness. Using an old cassette tape he played the called. No answer. We waited a few minutes. Mr. H played it again. There it was faint and moving in closer! Northern Saw-whet Owl for Year Bird 469. Extra special because this was a lifer too. We moved around and re-positioned a coupled of times and finally got eyes on it.

Because we could we tried for Flammulated and Spotted Owl with not luck. Doesn't hurt to try!

Northern Saw-whet Owl
What a trip, 1,515 miles. 10.5 miles of hiking. I ended up with twelve new birds for the year and one lifer. My goal was to get 500 species by Memorial Day. I'm going to fall short of that by 31 species. I knew that would be a stretch, but goal that make you stretch are what's needed.

I may be able with some luck to pick up one or two species in early June, but that will be very lucky. I have only 28 none review species left! The next big push of birds will be in July when the Summer Pelagic Season starts.

Click here for my need list. I would really love to hear about a Lazuli Bunting or a Eastern Whip-poor-will I could get to in time. If you find one text or Facebook message me if you can!


  1. Maybe this fall you can get a Swan,swan Hummingbird omage to R.E.M. Good luck and thanks for sharing

  2. Wow,..
    What a fantastic post you have shared with us about the hammer,.
    Greener Blast Hummer