Burrowing Owls – They Make Me Smile

When I photograph Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) I can’t resist smiling, especially when they are juveniles. Just seeing them makes me grin.

Burrowing Owl chicks on SagebrushBurrowing Owl chicks on Sagebrush – Nikon D200, f11, 1/250, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

These chicks were perched on a Sagebrush not long after the sun had risen. They are fairly young but able to fly. The creamy colored chest lacks the spots of darker brown that older juveniles have. Before I began to photograph these juveniles I changed my aperture to f11 to get the birds in the depth of field so that they would both be sharp, it worked out quite well.

The owlet on the left side of the frame didn’t stick around long but I was able to get several shots of the two of them that I liked.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. As you already know Mia, Burrowing Owls are very special to me and I spend a lot of time trying to bring their numbers back up in California. These juveniles are so precious, I can’t even express to you how beautiful your Burrowing Owl photographs are to me. Not only do I smile whenever I am able to see a Burrowing Owl, I feel warm and fuzzy all over ;-) Did I say that out loud? I love these owls!!

    • Larry, I must admit there are times I just want to hug a juvenile Burrowing Owl because they give me the warm fuzzies too, but I resist hugging them!

      I hope that through research, hard work and people like you that the Burrowing Owls in the west will be able to make a comeback. They (and many other birds species) are TOO precious to lose.

      Thank you for your very kind words on my Burrowing Owl images.

  2. Great captures Mia! So adorable, love those eyes!!

  3. They make me smile too, Mia! Perfect lighting!

  4. I will never pass up an opportunity to look at photos of Burrowing Owls. Nice detail and beautiful light. You can tell its low light by the size of their pupils.

  5. Mia, if I got a shot like this, I’d feel as though I could hang up my camera. What an extraordinary capture! And I’m with you on Burrowing Owls … they are incredible birds and photographic subjects.

    • Thans Ingrid. I hope you get shots of Burrowing Owls but I also hope you don’t hang up your camera when you do, the world is better because of your images and blog posts.

  6. Love love love em’. You always have the best presentation and photos Burrowing Owls : )

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  8. Wonderful poses and photo, I notice one of them has already been banded, so cool:)

  9. Look at those little fluffballs! I see the bird on the right is banded. Beautiful light and soft colors in this shot, Mia.

    • Scott, When I first saw that the juveniles were banded I was disappointed (whoever banded them didn’ ask me! ;-) ) but I know that research needs to be done with Burrowing Owls in the west because populations are declining. They are little fluffballs! Thanks.

  10. They look so inquisitive. I love the colors in this shot. Carol

  11. You must have had a blast photographing these owls, Mia! You certainly captured personalities in your images – they’re incredible.

  12. Owls are wonderful.. and I agree it is the eyes that grab us when we see them. great shot Mia

  13. These little chicks are adorable Mia! What fun to see them. <3

  14. This wonderful post brought a big smile to my face. They really are special birds. Those big, yellow eyes really pull you in. Superb photograph of these cuties! Great lighting, crispness and detail.

  15. Very nice photo Mia. There is something about there facial “expression” that always makes me smile too, they are sooo cute.

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