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I can’t get enough Mexican food or birds… I guess I’m in the right place. This morning I met up with folks who I met at the feeders yesterday – a couple from Vermont and Sally, a woman from England who is wonderful at birds and incredibly generous with her knowledge. We hiked up the beautiful Florida Canyon. What a unique environment there – prickly pear among a running creek with sotol and agave all around, mesquite, juniper, sycamore, ocotillo, a few cholla. Saw my first black-chinned sparrow! And a freaking Hutton’s vireo – NOT a kinglet. I’m still not convinced they look much different. At one point we encountered some jays that flew in and started squawking up a storm. I thought that’s normal but Sally kept saying something was going on. So we waited and waited for a while as they flew between two trees making a racket. And then a growl… and eventually another… until finally this cat was getting quite agitated and growling quite frequently. We never did see it but determined it was a cougar trying to sleep.

I was surprised when Sally asked for my contact info and told me to contact her if I’m back in April. She also sent me an email this evening! She’s so talented and busy and dislikes banding and I’m just a dumb kid. A thought crossed my mind yesterday – I want to get so good at birds that I can guide people or hey, even be a professor! I want to give people the opportunity to see cool birds in their own backyard and give them hope that they can identify sparrows. So many elder birders have done this for me and are the reason I haven’t given up.

I laid the owl to rest today on a small hill overlooking the desert and mountains. I drove through the desert at dusk with a backroad beer and the piercing sunset in my rearview. Off to be a cowboy at the cattle ranch tomorrow!

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