Resting Barn Owl in Box Elder County, Utah

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A resting Barn Owl on hay balesA resting Barn Owl on hay bales – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Winter is tough on the Barn Owls in Utah especially when there is lots of snow on the ground and the temps drop down into the single digits. They have a hard time getting their prey through the snow which means they hunt longer and hunt during the day. We lose a lot of our Barn Owls when the winters are especially harsh.

On January 1st I spotted this resting Barn Owl on some hay bales not too far from the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at the hot spring. I didn’t see the owl shiver but it also never opened it eyes to even look around while I photographed it and they are normally a skittish bird. That alone can tell me that the owl is under stress.

Normally I would like to have a bit of eye contact from my subject but in this case I just wanted to write about how tough it can be to be a Barn Owl in the winter here in Utah. I have spotted several of them since the snow has been thick on the ground and most of them have been doing exactly what this owl is doing, resting and conserving energy to survive.

I thanked the owl after taking a few shots and left it undisturbed.

Life is tough.



  1. April Olson January 10, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    I always wish I could toss them a few mice when I see them struggling.

  2. Jane Chesebrough January 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I have never seen a barn owl-they have very nice markings. I wish this one well and always hope for survival.

  3. Elephant's Child January 10, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Patty said it all for me.

  4. catherine January 10, 2016 at 10:13 am

    The weather is cold in the US. Here in France this is different. It is too mild for January and plants are growing too fast. Hope this owl will pass the winter in safe conditions. Somertimes we tend to idealize nature without knowing that life can be tough

    • Patty Chadwick January 10, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Not so different here in US…cold now, but has been record-setting warm….not good!

  5. Patty Chadwick January 10, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I LOVE this image of a sleepy-looking owl…I only hope he’s very sleepy not too weak to react. winter is so terribly challeging for all creatures, especially when their food sources are buried or deep underground. Mother Nature is one cruel Mother—— I hope there are some resident rodents in those hay bales for that bird to find. At least it’s found a snug, protected place to rest. A beautiful if worrisome capture…

  6. Nancy Collins January 10, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Nice Mia! I am always amazed how they “blend in” with their environment! Hoping they can sustain themselves through the winter months!

  7. Bob Mcpherson January 10, 2016 at 5:37 am

    Beautiful photo, Mia. Your sensitivity is quite apparent.

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