The Burrowing Owls are arriving – Caution, Extreme Cuteness Ahead!

/, Birds, Burrowing Owls, Davis County, Nesting Birds, Utah, Wildlife Ethics/The Burrowing Owls are arriving – Caution, Extreme Cuteness Ahead!

Adult Burrowing Owl at a burrowAdult Burrowing Owl at a burrow – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

A few Burrowing Owls have arrived on Antelope Island and more will soon migrate to their breeding grounds on the island. Burrowing Owls are enchanting, entertaining and so cute they are irresistible. Everyone seems to love them.  I know I can’t resist taking images of them and watching their antics as the young owls grow.

But it is very important at this time of the year prior to nesting that when owls are found at or near a burrow that they be given plenty of space and not harassed otherwise they may find another location to nest in.  I’ve already noticed a lot of traffic where the burrow is in the picture above and I hope that people will give the owl space so the it won’t feel harassed or threatened so that everyone will be able to enjoy watching this Burrowing Owl raise its young. Harassing it now may cause it to nest elsewhere.

Juvenile Burrowing OwlJuvenile Burrowing Owl – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Every year about this time I try to do a post on ethics for nests and chicks and although these guidelines might seem like common sense there have been times I have seen a lack of that in the field. This doesn’t apply to just the Burrowing Owls but all birds (other wildlife too).

1. Do not approach too closely,

2. If the birds show any sign of distress back away,

3. Don’t trim leaves, twigs or branches to get a clearer shot, you may inadvertently attract predators or cause the eggs/chicks to over heat,

4. Follow local, state and federal guidelines concerning nesting birds,

5. Don’t harass the birds to get an action shot,

6. Don’t stay a long time near a location with nesting birds or chicks, that disrupts their normal behavior

7. Do not use recorded calls to excess, birds need every ounce of energy to attract their mates, defend their territories, breed and rear their young. Calls can cause males to expend energy by reacting to them as if they were an intruder, take them away from the chicks and leave them exposed and calls may also put the birds at risk of predation.

One of the most important things to remember is that an image is never as important as the safety and well being of the subject. Ever.


For more information on the ethics of photographing nesting birds or chicks check out the Principles of Birding Ethics published by the American Birding Association.


  1. Patty Chadwick March 9, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    I love the little giy peeking up put of the rocks!!! I sure as heck needed that laugh!!!

  2. Lois March 7, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Just sooo darling!!!!!

  3. Humming Bird Lover March 5, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Hi! Thank you for sharing one of my special Cuties! Since I saw them myself in 2012 .I just love them!! Great photo’s Keep up the great shooting! Have a good day on Friday!!

  4. Scott Simmons March 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Wonderful photos and great advice, Mia. Pretty much common sense, really.

  5. Utahbooklover March 4, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Wonderful images of these grouchy-looking yet beautiful owls.

  6. Kim March 4, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Exquisite images Mia. I think of you whenever I hear about these little owls. Thank you for caring about them and sharing such beautiful shots that we can enjoy even more as we know they were taken ethically.

  7. Charlotte (Prairie Birder) March 3, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Lovely photos, Mia, and excellent advice. I can’t wait to see more of your Burrowing Owl photos!

  8. wendy chapman March 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Well said Mia. Lovely images.

  9. Elephant's Child March 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Stunning images and sadly necessary advice.

  10. Chris Oakley March 3, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Stellar advice Mia – thanks

  11. Larry Muench March 3, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Now if I could just spell harassment properly!

  12. Larry Muench March 3, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Great advice. Not only will harrassment cause them to move but may result in abandoning the nest and loss of that brood. Thanks for posting.

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