I've always been fascinated by owls. I lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota for most of my life, and while I'm sure they were all around me, I never actually saw one in the wild until I moved to the desert. Now I see them all the time.
Our first house in Tucson was in the middle of town, so I didn't see any there. Our current house is on the outskirts of town, near a National Park. All the lots in our neighborhood are fairly large, with natural desert yards. We get a lot of owls out here.
I saw my first owl about a month after we moved in. I was turning off the lights outside when I noticed this little guy. He just sat there staring at me. I'm sure the poor guy was paralyzed with fear. I had plenty of time to get Meg and the camera. That was four years ago now, but my eyes still go to that spot every night when I close up, hoping for a return visit.
We see Great Horned Owls quite frequently. I don't have any pictures to share, but man, they are so cool. Our neighbors had this dead tree in their yard, and the Great Horneds loved to perch at the top, surveying the land for prey. They would just sit up there, hooting away. The neighbors took the tree down a while back, and unfortunately we don't see as many Great Horneds these days.
I remember lying in bed one night and the hooting was particularly loud, it was like the owl was in the room with us. It sounded so close, we went outside to look for it. A giant Great Horned Owl was right on the old TV antenna directly over our bedroom. It was so cool we got the girls out of bed to check it out.
This little guy is around so much we had to give him a name. We named him Horatio, but recently the girls decided we should add Papa to his name in honor of my dad. So now our little friend is Papa Horatio. I believe Papa Horatio is a Western Screech Owl. There's a hole in the brick he's on, and there are normally birds nesting there. Papa Horatio shows up every so often for a feast, hangs out for a while, and then he's gone. This owl spends so much time at our house, I've actually toyed with the idea of getting a falconer's glove and trying to train it. I told the girls I was thinking about training Papa Horatio one time and they nearly lost their minds laughing. Yeah, guess I'll just settle for taking pictures.