Mr. Elf Owl peered into the hole of the oak tree hoping to find it empty.
“Sorry ma’am, didn’t mean to disturb you,” Mr. Elf Owl said to a startled woodpecker. “The missus and I are trying to find ourselves a home before the youngin’s come.”
“Well, this tree is taken!” snapped Mrs. Woodpecker. “Next time be careful where you stick that beak of yours.” Ruffling her feathers she settled deeper on her nest of eggs.
Mrs. Elf Owl had hoped to find a home in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. The summer temperatures were cooler and the riparian forest would provide needed shelter and water. Unfortunately, many other birds and animals had the same idea. There wasn’t an empty oak tree to be found.
“Oh dear,” sighed Mrs. Elf Owl. “I don’t think I’m going to make it. The eggs aren’t going to wait too much longer.”
Her drooping eyes struggled to stay open since day time was mostly for sleeping. Wings moving up and down barely had enough strength in them to lift her off the branch where she was perched. The elf owls had just returned from migrating to Mexico. They had flown south during the winter months where the insects they preferred to eat were more available.
When contractions tightened around her midsection, Mrs. Elf Owl began moaning. “You know, we wouldn’t be in this predicament if you hadn’t decided to try a new route home. At the border all you had to do was ask for directions. But no, you weren’t lost. You knew exactly where we were the whole time.”
“Hey, I got us here didn’t I?” Mr. Elf Owl asked, puffing out his chest.
“Look dear, I’ve been a good wife, really I have. But be warned, that fact is about to change if you don’t find me a home and find it soon.”
“Yes dear,” answered Mr. Elf Owl, letting out the air from his expanded chest. “She may be only 4 ˝ inches tall and only weighs a little over an ounce,” he softly chuckled, “yet I believe she’s desperate enough to do some damage to my body.”
“I know where there’re some sycamore trees,” announced Mr. Elf Owl. “The tall trees will provide protection from snakes, coyotes and bobcats. Hopefully, we can find one that’s been pecked out by a woodpecker.”
Mrs. Elf Owl looked down at her swollen belly wondering how much longer she had before their young ones would insist on being laid. They would have to find a place with an old, used nest. After an hour of flying, they spied the grove of sycamore trees on the slopes of a large hill. The air was more arid and there wasn’t as much foliage and brush.
“Excuse me, is anyone home?” asked Mr. Elf Owl at a tree on the back edge of the grove. All the other trees seemed to be occupied already. This was their only hope.
“I say there, you startled me!” answered Mr. Sparrow, poking his head out of the hole. “How may I be of assistance to you?”
After hearing a brief explanation of their plight, Mr. Sparrow shook his head. “Sorry, but this grove is full. Fairly close to the water supply, you know. There is still one more place you could try. On the Sonora desert floor, the saguaros would make a nice home.”
“Oh Elfie, not the desert!” Mrs. Elf Owl cried. “It’s horribly hot there! Please not the desert.” Mrs. Elf Owl shuddered at the thought of living in such a remote, hostile place.
“My dear, I don’t think we have a choice.” Mr. Elf Owl said kindly while stroking his beloved’s feathers. “I do believe though, if the good Lord can take of that sparrow family, He will provide for us too.”
Two exhausted elf owls flew to the desert right before a thick darkness settled over the area. Finding a deserted saguaro cactus with an old nest, they slept until the early hours of the morning.
Mr. and Mrs. Elf Owl opened their eyes to the splendor of dawn in the desert. Beautiful white flowers, with large centers as bright as the sun, had blossomed overnight on the hundreds of cacti which surrounded them. The arms of the cactus stretched upward as if in praise of their Creator. As they took in the lovely sight, their hearts were full. Secured safely in the nest of the saguaro cactus were four tiny eggs.
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