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Burrowing Owl

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Spring is in the air as Burrowing Owls mate on the plains

Well, these images were taken on Mother’s Day so I reckon perhaps in a way it is fitting that this pair was working on making babies. 😉 The pair was initially perched on two separate burrows. The female came flying in and that seemed to be all the invitation the male needed to initiate the intimacy.

With any luck, the pair was successful but it will be several weeks before any potential little ones make a public appearance.

Oddly enough, this seems to be – at least for me – a bit of a down year for Burrowing Owls. The majority of the usual spots where I have seen them in recent years have no activity or did once and have not since. It could just be a bit of bad luck / bad timing for me seeing them. But, in general, I am seeing far fewer pictures of them in my Colorado photo groups than what I would normal expect.

See more pics of these cool little guys that I have taken in the past here.

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owls mate on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Playing peekaboo with a Burrowing Owl in the snow

My first one of these of the season and he / she was quite an entertaining one. I had been on the lookout for them as I knew they had been migrating here as they do this time of year but wasn’t having much luck. As I drove along I glanced to my left and there it was, not 10 feet from the road.

It gave me some awesome, closeup poses but, when a trash truck came by, it got scared and fled to the top of a hill. There, it played this game of sticking its head up above the snow-covered hill, checking to see if it was clear. Pretty funny to watch!

In many ways, this is a fitting image to share on Earth Day. Burrowing Owls are considered a threatened species here in the Colorado. Their numbers appear to be on the decline as humans take over and destroy their habitat.

Many folks think nothing of wiping out Prairie Dog colonies, a keystone species itself, but don’t realize the cascading effects of that on all of the other creatures down the line, including these little guys. Without the Prairie Dog burrows, Burrowing Owls don’t have a home and many other creatures like hawks and eagles don’t have a food source.

A Burrowing Owl peeks up above a snow-covered hill on the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl peeks up above a snow-covered hill on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owl stays focused on the camera

On my tour of the plains yesterday I was sure I would see my ‘first of the season’ of these cool little guys but I came up empty despite checking 10 different usual hot spots. I have no doubt though that they are out there and those spots will soon have their summer residents. This image was taken almost exactly one year ago on April 9, 2017.

During the summer Burrowing Owls can be found across much of the western United States. At more southern latitudes closer to Mexico and in Florida they stay in place year round. Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are diurnal (versus nocturnal) so it is quite common to find them out and about during the day.

Burrowing Owls are considered a threatened species here in the Colorado. Their numbers appear to be on the decline as humans take over and destroy their habitat. Many folks think nothing of wiping out Prairie Dog colonies, a keystone species itself, but don’t think of the cascading effects of that on all of the other creatures down the line, including these little guys.

A male Burrowing Owl stares into the camera from its perch. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Burrowing Owl stares into the camera from its perch. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owl stays focused on the photographer

And here I thought I stayed focused on my subjects! This pretty lady seemed quite intent to keep its gaze on me as well. 😉

A local wildlife photographer group arranged for a visit with Nature’s Educators, a non-profit group that does public outreach events to educate the public on wildlife. Most of the animals in the group’s care cannot be released into the wild for a variety of reasons.

Such is the case with Attis, a Burrowing Owl. She was hit by a car and suffered a broken wing that was unable to be fixed and as a result she cannot fly or be released into the wild. Instead, Attis now serves as an ambassador for the group. She gave me some fantastic looks and an opportunity to get much closer than what you normally could in the wild.

During the summer Burrowing Owls can be found across much of the western United States. At more southern latitudes closer to Mexico and in Florida they stay in place year round. Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are diurnal (versus nocturnal) so it is quite common to find them out and about during the day. Burrowing Owls are considered a threatened species here in the Colorado. Their numbers appear to be on the decline as humans take over and destroy their habitat.

If you’re interested, this image is available here.

A Burrowing Owl keeps close watch on the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl keeps close watch on the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owl among wildflowers

This morning I shared an image of a whole clan of these cool little raptors. Here is a close up of one of the adults. It was kind enough to hang out in a spot with some nice flowers to add some color. Okay, I realize they may just be flowering weeds but it still looks better than the dirt mounts we normally see them on. 😀

During the summer Burrowing Owls can be found across much of the western United States. At more southern latitudes closer to Mexico and in Florida they stay in place year round. Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are diurnal (versus nocturnal) so it is quite common to find them out and about during the day.

Burrowing Owls are considered a threatened species here in the Colorado. Their numbers appear to be on the decline as humans take over and destroy their habitat. Many folks think nothing of wiping out Prairie Dog colonies, a keystone species itself, but don’t think of the cascading effects of that on all of the other creatures down the line, including these little guys.

A Burrowing Owl keeps watch above its flower covered home. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl keeps watch above its flower covered home. (© Tony’s Takes)

That is one big family!

I was trying to decide what to post a picture of this morning, trying to keep an eye toward a creature I hadn’t posted in a while. Burrowing Owls were what I settled on and while I have images of these cool little ones that are far better, I remembered this one.

Taken back at the end of June, it shows more Burrowing Owls in a single picture than I have ever seen – one adult and nine young ones! I had never seen so many at a single burrow, usually finding four or five at a time. They can have clutches from two to 12 so this family was at the upper end of the spectrum.

A very large family of Burrowing Owls northeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A very large family of Burrowing Owls northeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pair of little owls focuses on the photographer

One of this summer’s favorite pairs of Burrowing Owls. They provided me with a good number of photo opportunities although once their little ones began emerging, they became a bit more reclusive and standoffish.

It won’t be long now and the family will begin their journey to someplace further south for the winter. During the summer Burrowing Owls can be found across much of the western United States. At more southern latitudes closer to Mexico and in Florida they stay in place year round.

Unlike most owls, they are diurnal (versus nocturnal) so it is quite common to find them out and about during the day. Burrowing Owls are considered a threatened species here in the Colorado. Their numbers appear to be on the decline as humans take over and destroy their habitat.

Many folks think nothing of wiping out Prairie Dog colonies, a keystone species itself, but don’t think of the cascading effects of that on all of the other creatures down the line, including these little guys.

A pair of Burrowing Owls keeps close watch at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of Burrowing Owls keeps close watch at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

That’s close enough, bub!

This adult Burrowing Owl made it pretty clear by its stare that it didn’t care too much to have its picture taken. Last year, the USDA and Denver International Airport attempted to eradicate these and other raptors from the land surrounding the airport by destroying any Prairie Dog colony nearby. While it worked in the short term, in the long term the effort failed and the Burrowing Owls (and Prairie Dogs) are back.

A Burrowing Owl stares intensely into the camera near Denver International Airport. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl stares intensely into the camera near Denver International Airport. (© Tony’s Takes)

Brave little Burrowing Owl

There seems to have been a bumper crop of little owlets at many of the nest sites this year. One even had as many as NINE little ones! At one nearby, there were five. Here, one of the parents, probably seeking a break from all those hungry mouths, decided it would rather hang out on a roadside sign post than at home. Not a very safe thing to do but I can sympathize. 😉

A Burrowing Owl on the Colorado plains rests on a roadside marker post.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl on the Colorado plains rests on a roadside marker post. (© Tony’s Takes)

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