Great Horned Owl and fledgling strongly backlit by the setting sun

Great Horned Owl adult feeding fledglingGreat Horned Owl adult feeding fledgling – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/160, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

What can I say about this image of an adult Great Horned Owl feeding its young that is strongly back lit by the setting sun on Honeymoon Island State Park in Florida? Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t. I could not get a better angle than I had because if I had the sun at my back I would have only gotten an image of the owl’s backs which wouldn’t have been that interesting at all. But I do like the intimacy of this image with the interaction between the adult and the fledgling a lot. I wish that both owl’s would have had their eyes open but with them closed it shows that they were relaxed in my presence which is something I strive for when photographing birds an animals.

So one day I will look at it and appreciate the intimacy, the tenderness it seems the adult has for the young owl and the setting and on another day I bemoan the fact that I didn’t have a better angle of light and that the bird’s eyes weren’t open.

I might never figure it out. :-)


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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. Love it, fantastic capture! I like your watermark, too, cool design.

  2. Now that’s love!

  3. I think the back lighting adds to the warmth of the picture, great shot.

  4. Jane Chesebrough

    I think it is great because of the intimacy.

  5. It’s absolutely darling … one of the key features in a truly great image, to me, is the story. Second is composition. You’ve got both here. Not a clue what you’re unhappy about … there’s clarity, color and detail. I love it!!!

  6. oh my goodness, this is the BEST PHOTO EVER!!!!! I love it!!!!!

  7. It’s a very special,very wonderful photo, Mia.

  8. Such a privilege to see. And I love that they were comfortable enough in your presence to not need to keep you in sight at every moment.

  9. My favorite animal photos are those showing behaviors rather than perfect poses. Most of us rarely get to see moments like the one you captured in this picture. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Hi!

    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and I LOVE your photographs. You are truly talented. Adult Great Horned Owls close their eyes when feeding their young to avoid injury to their eyes. We all know how zealous chicks can get when it comes to feeding time. I don’t know why the nestlings close their eyes.

  11. Great sight to see! Adorable capture, Mia!

  12. Great Horned Owls are so hard to even see–they are so well camouflaged. Your image allows us to glimpse this intimate moment–it is beautiful and truly a gift. Thank you.

  13. I like it just the way it is. It’s a great shot.

  14. So sweet!!! Beautiful photo, thank you :)

  15. It really is appealing despite the light not being as you’d want in a perfect world, and the interaction is special.

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