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Burrowing Owl

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“I’m telling you, that Prairie Dog was THIS big!”

“I’m telling you, that Prairie Dog was THIS big!”

These four Burrowing Owl owlets were quite animated on this morning a couple weeks ago. No, they weren’t really chatting about the neighboring rodents. They were however getting very close to flying and there was a lot of wing flapping going on. Here, one was testing out those wings while three of its siblings looked on.

A Burrowing Owl owlet tests out its wings while its siblings look on. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl owlet tests out its wings while its siblings look on. (© Tony’s Takes)

Battle over burrows

A male Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog face off over the rights to an underground home. Very fun to watch this interaction.

These two creatures have a very symbiotic relationship and normally get along great. The owls use abandoned Prairie Dogs’ burrows and they both share watch duties keeping all safe from intruders by sounding alarms when danger approaches.

The pair of Burrowing Owls at this spot though was very protective of their clan and did not like it when any type of creature intruded. In this case, the owl was being a bit over-protective. Its burrow was actually about 20 yards away and all this Prairie Dog was doing was wanting to return to its own home.

Thankfully for the Prairie Dog, the owls don’t sit for long so it just waited till the owl moved on and then it reclaimed its home.

A Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog have a discussion about the rights to a burrow. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog have a discussion about the rights to a burrow. (© Tony’s Takes)

Chow time for Burrowing Owl owlets

A couple of very busy parents here with five little ones to take care of. I spent hours watching them this past Wednesday and had an absolute blast.

Mom hung out close to the nest, keeping close watch on the owlets. Dad opted to hang out about 20 yards away for the most part but was far from disconnected. In fact, three times he brought home meals for the family. A good breakfast for the crew, not a good day for the mice. 😉

Here, mom had just taken the latest catch from the dad and was getting ready to take it to the kiddos.

A female Burrowing Owl carries breakfast for her owlets while the male keeps watch.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Burrowing Owl carries breakfast for her owlets while the male keeps watch. (© Tony’s Takes)

Wide-eyed little owl

I think this little one was a bit surprised to have company early in the morning out in the middle of the Colorado plains. Two, minor county roads intersected the spot and it likely doesn’t get much traffic other than ranchers and perhaps someone like me looking for critters. A brief, early morning rain shower had dampened things and the owl’s feathers as well. The light was a bit dim as the sun was still rising and it was overcast making for a bit of a tough shot. Thankfully the Burrowing Owl stayed put just long enough for me to grab a few shots.

A damp Burrowing Owl keeps watch from a perch on a fence post in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A damp Burrowing Owl keeps watch from a perch on a fence post in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

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)

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