Northern Utah Short-eared Owl Chicks

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Two Short-eared Owl chicksTwo Short-eared Owl chicks

Yesterday morning I headed out early hoping that the clouds would lift, the wind wouldn’t pick up and that I’d find some birds to focus on. The clouds did lift, the wind stayed calm and I found three northern Utah Short-eared Owl chicks in morning light to focus on. The owlets were close to the edge of a road and I was able to pull over to the far side of the road to photograph them in good light and able stay far enough away from them so that I didn’t disturb them.

Short-eared Owl chick at sunriseShort-eared Owl chick at sunrise

The chicks were resting in front of a sagebrush and I was able to get clear views of two of them, the chick in the middle had dead twigs in front it so I focused primarily on the two chicks on the ends.

Winking Short-eared Owl chickWinking Short-eared Owl chick

This chick appeared to be slightly younger than the other two because it still shows down on its head and it seemed a little smaller. I also liked how this young owl was rocking what looks like a faux hawk and winking at me.

Short-eared Owlet in morning lightShort-eared Owlet in morning light

This image shows the same chick without the wink. Those bright yellow eyes sure are mesmerizing.

Short-eared Owl chick in front of sageShort-eared Owl chick in front of sage

I only wanted to stay with the owlets for a few minutes and in those few minutes I fired off a few hundred shots. The young owls weren’t doing much but resting, opening their eyes and looking around.

I had been using my Nikon D810 in FX (full frame) mode to fit the young owls in the frame.

Short-eared Owl chick portraitShort-eared Owl chick portrait

Then I switched to DX (cropped frame) mode and took a series of portraits of the two chicks that were mostly out in the open.

Short-eared Owl chick close upShort-eared Owl chick close up

I loved the light, the fine plumage details and the great looks of the eyes of these young owls in the images I created.

Short-eared Owl chick parallaxingShort-eared Owl chick parallaxing

The owl chick that was on the left even parallaxed as I photographed it, turning its head side ways to its right…

Parallaxing Short-eared Owl chickParallaxing Short-eared Owl chick

And then to its left. It felt amazing to be alone with these northern Utah Short-eared Owl chicks for a few brief moments yesterday. I drove away with a huge smile on my face after my experience with them.

Then I headed north to meet up with Marie Read who is a friend, author and fellow female bird photographer. We photographed more owls side by side for a bit and chatted about birds, photography and the nature that surrounded us.

Life is good.


All images were taken with my Nikon D810, 500mm VR with 1.4x TC attached. My ISO was set between 250 and 320 to get the most fine detail in the owlets plumage. About half of the images I took were in FX mode and the rest were in DX mode.


  1. Don May 28, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Owls are such wonderful subjects. Great shots.

  2. April Olson May 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Absolutely a wonderful find. I love your photos. I would have stayed all day and watched forgetting to ever take a photo.

  3. Liv May 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm


  4. Catherine May 24, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Made my whole afternoon. What beautiful owlets. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Elephant's Child May 24, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Oooh. And Ahhh. And thank you.

  6. Brian White May 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Fabulous images!

  7. Utahbooklover May 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Well, you certainly earned a day of everything is just right. You made my day too.

  8. Jerry Ellison May 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Beautiful shots Mia. I’ve never seen Short Eared Owl chicks before…very well done! Jer

  9. Ilze Long May 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

    So wonderful! Had to laugh with love! Thanks for taking the pictures and posting them.
    Made my day!

  10. Kat May 24, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Just amazing shots Mia, I love your stories it is so much more to describe the experience.

  11. Patty Chadwick May 24, 2016 at 8:25 am

    What a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL series!!! Both the expressions and the detail are incredible….

  12. Earl May 24, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Great photos Mia

  13. Bob McPherson May 24, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Absolutely gorgeous, Mia. Please take a Bow

  14. Liz Cormack May 24, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Ooooh, what absolutely fantastic shots. I so envy you & your talent.

  15. Randal Sokolik May 24, 2016 at 5:29 am

    amazing shots!! thank you – abundance of raptors amd birds out there in Utah- great location(s).

  16. Linda Laugen May 24, 2016 at 5:03 am

    OOOOH! And Happy Halloween! They ARE mesmerizing!! And beautiful!


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