Barn Owl on a foggy morning

Barn Owl in flight panoBarn Owl in flight pano

Fog can add a moody feel to images and yesterday there was plenty of fog at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area. There were a few Barn Owls hunting for food and I captured images of this one as it flew towards me. The fog created the white background and there was just enough light to get a catch light in the eye.

Barn Owl flying in fog Barn Owl flying in fog

With the whites in the owl and the fog I fell fortunate that the owl’s form stands out subtly from the background.

Barn Owl in flight on a foggy morning Barn Owl in flight on a foggy morning

I love the almost heart-shaped facial disc that Barn Owls have. These images are shown in the order that I created them, after taking the image above the owl turned east and I lost sharp focus.

Barn Owl searching for its prey in the snowBarn Owl searching for its prey in the snow

I mentioned in my recent post “Barn Owls and Harsh Winters” that the owls here are struggling because of the bitter cold we have been experiencing and how the heavy snow on the ground makes it hard for the owls to locate prey and I wanted to share this image of the Barn Owl after it dove into the snow to locate prey. I wish the owl would have been facing us because I can’t be sure the owl did locate the prey through what looks to be 8-9 inches of snow that is still laying on the ground. When I blow this image way up I think I see traces of blood on the bill so maybe it did get the prey.

The owl was in the snow for over 5 minutes then it lifted off to rest on the side of a small hill, through my lens I could see this owl shivering, the temp was around 7 degrees Fahrenheit. Over the next few days temperatures are going to be warming here and even though some snow is predicted to fall I am hoping the warmer temps will melt some of the snow and make it easier for the Barn Owls to locate their food. I hope so because the Barn Owls are struggling to survive now.


*All images taken with a Nikon D300, f6.3, ISO 640, shutter speed of 1/1000 to 1/1250, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

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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. Humming bird Lover

    I love these beautiful pictures! The snow makes the Image and colors jump rigth out ! You feel like the Owl could come into your room! Like in Harry Potter!! Ha Ha Fab work Mia!

  2. Wow, awesome post and gorgeous photos, I hope some day I too will get to see and photograph this magnificent bird:)

  3. I agree with all of the comments here about the photographs. I absolutely love fog, although I’m still working on using diffused light for wildlife shots. Did you ever perfect it here, Mia, with blissful, beautiful background and catchlight. Do you know what owl mortality might be due to the cold? And … do owls move to carrion and less conventional sources of food in desperation? Makes me so sad to see, as you say, this rigorous fight for survival in harsh conditions.

    • Ingrid, I’ve seen Harriers and Hawks move to less than conventional food sources, for instance someone is bating the birds at Farmington Bay WMA with chickens and the harriers and hawks have taken advantage of that but I haven’t seen the Owls take advantage of the unnatural prey items. I know that the WMA manager who is a friend of mine has said he is finding a lot of dead Barn and Short-eared Owls in the marshes. Makes me very sad. But we are having a warm up right now and that might help these owls. Thanks so much for your comments on these images.

  4. Amazing pics! Fog can makes an excellent background and you utilized it perfectly.

  5. Exceptional photographs, Mia! Grace and beauty. I really like the feeling that the fog creates. Outstanding work, as always!

  6. Miaaaaaaaa…….!!!!!! Gorgeous shots. Love your Barn Owl Maestra! I thought of you the other day as I crawled into mud and goose poop for acceptable shots of the Tundra Swans:) It was both a fun and nasty day. I always think of you when I have to go above and beyond for those epic shots:) Beautiful work on this fabulous owl.

    • Thank you Chrisssssssssssssssss ;-) I had to giggle when I read you crawled through mud and goose poop to get your shots of the Tundra Swan’s. I now officially declare you a member of the “Down & Dirty” club!

  7. I so enjoy your owl shots. The barn owl is my favorite since thats the only one I have seen other than the little burrowing owls. Keep up the great shots.

  8. I recently discovered your work because I spotted a barn owl at Farmington Bay and couldn’t believe my eyes when it suddenly dropped into deep snow and came up with a small rodent. When I checked eBird for sightings up popped your name and I have been a very big fan ever since. Your barn owl series is breath-taking. I really love your approach to wildlife photography and have learned a ton from devouring your posts. Thanks to you I have also discovered Ron Dudley’s photography and just have to tell you both what a great joy it is to follow your adventures and learn from the knowledge you so willing share with novices like me.

    • Hi Dennis, I’m very glad you found my blog and that you enjoy my images too! I’m also glad you are learning from my blog (and my mistakes). We do love our bird photography adventures!

  9. Love the heart shaped face as well (and torpedo body). Lovely images in flight but I think I like the last one best.

  10. I like the framing on all of these.

  11. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    You have captured a symphony in motion with these images…. We too are experiencing a severe cold snap but not anything like yours…. but I know how hard it is to see such magnificent creatures endure these times… When I was paralyzed, it was the birds enduring and surviving temps like this that seemed to cure something in me… The joy of seeing these creatures survive … I join you in that hope.

    • Thank you Merrill! We are currently having a warm up and that may help these beautiful Owls. I’m glad you are no longer paralyzed and that the birds helped you through a tough time.

  12. Kathleen, I hope you get to see a wild Barn Owl soon, even listen to their screeching call. I’ll take an owl any day! Thanks for commenting.

  13. Spectacular photography! Sure hope the owls get a break with the weather and more abundant prey.

  14. your photos are unbelievable. The cold temps certainly take their toll on the birds and all wildlife. We are so grateful that temps have warmed here. Take care..and thank you so much for sharing your photos with us.

  15. Mia, beautiful shots! I love the mood that fog creates! I hope it warms up enough that the Barn Owls don’t have to struggle so much!

  16. Absolutely beautiful, Mia!

  17. That’s magical, you caught it in flight, absolutely fabulous.

  18. Amazing! I’d also love to see a Barn Owl in the wild. I’ve seen Screech Owl and Short-eared, so for now I’ll have to be content with that!

  19. Great set! Can’t wait to go back!

  20. Oh wow, I am envious! I would love to see the Barn owl in the wild. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous!

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