I saw several burrows with mated pairs of Burrowing Owls at their entrances two days ago up in northern Utah and that excites me because there should be young owls before too long and I really hope they have a successful year for raising their broods. Some of the burrows are quite a distance from the road but a few are close enough that with my long lens I am able to obtain images of the owls that do not require much or any cropping of the original frame.
Western Burrowing Owl populations are declining and in Utah they are listed as a Species of Concern. Part of the reason they are in decline is habitat destruction.
Burrowing Owls lay between 2 to 12 eggs which are incubated solely by the female and hatch in 21 to 30 days, the young owls usually emerge from the burrows at about two weeks of age to wait at the entrance for the adults to bring them food. At about four weeks of age they can take short flights and by 6 weeks of age they fly very well.
I’ve watched this burrow for several years now and although in the morning it doesn’t get the best angle of light I still enjoy seeing the adult owls at the entrance of the burrow and later in the year the owlets learning how to use their wings and playing with each other. Two mornings ago I photographed the side lit male Burrowing Owl with wildflowers in the background but with all the rain we have been having it won’t be long before the vegetation completely obscures the burrow and the owls.
One year this burrow was basically a hill of dirt then the next year there were just grasses at the entrance, another year there was some type of non-blooming weeds and this year these wildflowers appeared. I am not certain what the wildflowers are but next time I am up there I am going to to photograph the flowers and will try to identify them. This burrow has produced quite a few young owls while I have watched it. I am glad that this burrow is on fenced private property because I believe that has stopped people from walking up to and onto the burrow and may have prevented people from getting close enough to harass the owls. Sometimes fences, even devil wire, protect the birds from humans.
Life is good.