A look back at my personal favorite captures of these (usually) nocturnal birds taken during my 2020 photo year. Owls seem to capture the imagination unlike any other bird, probably due to the fact that while they are common, many go unseen. I know I certainly love taking their picture. Among the types of owls I photographed were the common great horned owl, the summer visiting burrowing owl and the lesser seen screech owl and barn owl.
A nice looking post here that just so happens to have a pretty good-looking topper on it. 😉
Taken back at the end of June during a camping trip on Colorado’s northeast plains. As usual, the rest of my crew was sleeping in so I was out and about at sunrise, camera in hand.
On an isolated, dirt country road, I see something on top of one of the fence posts that clearly looked out of place. Getting closer, this beautiful burrowing owl was taking a break from the family and enjoying the warm morning.
Despite its wide eyes, you notice it is standing on one foot, as raptors often do when relaxed. Clearly it wasn’t too concerned about me.
I always say burrowing owls are probably the most entertaining form of wildlife I observe. This little one though took it to a whole new level.
It was the first one to emerge from the burrow each morning and when it did, it was sure to put on a show. From head bopping to turning its head sideways to get a different perspective to this curious look, the number of amusing poses the young #owl provided were seemingly endless.
On this morning back in July, it was particularly animated and gave me lots of laughs. This is the same owlet I featured in a video.
From a few weeks ago north of Denver, Colorado. This area had a ton of these cool little guys hanging out. Within view I believe there were at least four sets of parents and at least a couple dozen owlets between them.
Only one family was close enough for decent pics but that was enough and they provided their usual dose of fun and entertainment. Now they have all spread out and sightings will become more fleeting but I am happy with the images I captured of these summertime visitors to the plains.
I always say that burrowing owls have the most personality of just about any animal I have ever seen. Here is some evidence. This little burrowing owl owlet was the first to emerge from the nest on a recent morning and provided some great entertainment. Its head bobbing as it checks out the morning scene is hillarious.
“Back off, dog!”
Normally burrowing owls and prairie dogs live harmoniously in the same community. It is a symbiotic relationship with the owls nesting in abandoned prairie dog burrows and the two species sharing watch duty for threats. However, sometimes the neighbors can get a bit too close for comfort.
This past weekend I spent a morning watching a burrowing owl family with five owlets. One of the little ones did not appreciate the neighbors one bit and he did his best to appear big and mean to scare the prairie dogs off when they wandered too close.
It was so darned funny to watch the little dude (or dudette) act tough. The hunkering down and raising wings like this is a common thing that owls do in the face of a threat. It is a way to make themselves bigger and ideally ward off any bad guys.
Trying to get a single picture of all of the members of this big of a family of owls is pretty much impossible. I did manage a couple captures though with most of them.
In this image, mom is returning to the nest and all nine owlets were in view. The only family member missing was dad as he was off hunting.
Once the owlets emerge from the nest, they grow very quickly and soon disperse. The evening after this image was taken, three of the nine had relocated to a different burrow further away. Now, a week and a half later, you would be hard-pressed to find any of them.
Well, it seems this female burrowing owl finally had enough of having a camera pointed at her. 😉
Not a very good pic in terms of quality due to the dim light at the time, but a fun one nonetheless. I was photographing this lady, her mate and their nine owlets (yes, nine!) one evening this week.
She seemed to take notice of me and began chattering at me. When I didn’t move, she then marched right toward me getting another 10 feet closer. It was hilarious as she looked so danged serious about the situation and when they walk, they look kinda goofy.
In the end she decided I wasn’t a threat and went back to taking care of her brood.
Yesterday’s photo outing wasn’t going so well at the start. Wildlife wasn’t cooperative and crowds at some of my usual spots were frustrating.
I broke free from that and headed out to parts less traveled and was rewarded with this handsome burrowing owl and his mate. They have themselves a nice home on the Great Plains and almost certainly have a family hidden in their home.
He was doing a great job going out and catching bugs, bringing them back and then the female would deliver them into the burrow. For a time, he was well aware of my presence and did a good bit of calling to let me know the area was occupied. Here he is, mid-call, all puffed up and looking right at me.
Catching pictures of these little guys in flight is always a challenge and one that I rarely succeed at. They usually stick close to the ground making it hard to pick them out of the ground cover.
As I observed this one last weekend, much to my surprise, it launched into the air right at me and up high. I resorted to the “spray and pray” method of taking pictures – just pointing the camera at the subject and squeezing the shutter hoping to get something. It isn’t an elegant way of taking pictures nor is there planning involved. Luck is probably the biggest factor.
This time it panned out and I got a nice little sequence of it as it made a hard left in the air.