Fledgling Short-eared Owl Portraits

/, Box Elder County, Short-eared Owls, Utah/Fledgling Short-eared Owl Portraits

Fledgling Short-eared Owl portraitFledgling Short-eared Owl portrait – Nikon D810, f9, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Yesterday I was able to take a series of fledgling Short-eared Owl portraits when this young owl perched on a metal post right next to a road in Box Elder County, Utah. By using a vehicle as a mobile blind and being quiet while taking images the young owl without causing it stress, it was focused on hunting more than anything else. There were about five owls in the area including one adult male. The fledglings appeared to be trying to learn how to hunt on their own because they were watching the grassy areas near them and on occasion they dove down to the ground. I didn’t see any of them come up with prey but they may have caught prey and I just couldn’t see it because of the high grasses.

Fledgling Short-eared Owl Close UpFledgling Short-eared Owl Close Up – Nikon D810, f9, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Even though they appeared to be trying to learn how to hunt for themselves that didn’t stop them from hissing when the adult male was nearby which is their way of saying “Feed Me!” also known (more scientifically) as their begging call.  At this age they look very much like the adult females but I was able to tell the difference because of their behaviors which included begging and lots of parallaxing. Adults do parallax but in my observations not with the frequency of chicks, fledglings and juveniles. There are also other differences in physical characteristics including their plumage.

Short-eared Owl fledgling portraitShort-eared Owl fledgling portrait – Nikon D810, f9, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I was happy to get these portraits because my last experience with a fledgling Short-eared Owl was the one where we rescued it from the barbed wire fence which was traumatic for the owl and for me so it was nice to see one this close, wild, free and not tangled up in a fence. It was a unique experience to ride more than 90 miles with an owl on my lap but I really don’t want to have to do that again.

I haven’t had any updates on the condition of the rescued fledgling owl but no news is probably good news.

Life is good.



  1. Mia McPherson June 28, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Thank you all for commenting!

    Patty, in my observation of owls I believe that their pupils do act independently in regard to the way light falls on them. I have plenty of owl images where the pupils are different sizes.

  2. Elephant's Child June 25, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Owls. Ooooh.
    On this side of the world first light is an hour or so away, and owls is a wonderful start to the day. Really wonderful. Thank you.

  3. April Olson June 25, 2016 at 10:19 am


    Healing takes time for owls too.

  4. Patty Chadwick June 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

    These are wonderful images…notice once again in first that pupils are different sizes…and that left side of bird’s face is in shadow while right side is in full light…do their pupils act independently normally?

  5. Jane Chesebrough June 25, 2016 at 8:17 am

    So sharp!

  6. Roger Burnard June 25, 2016 at 7:10 am

    I just love all your owl photos. For some reason, I have a special fondness
    for owls, and love it when I see the word owl in your subject line. I can
    never see too many images of owls… Great shots Mia. ;-)))

  7. Bob McPherson June 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Really gorgeous photos Mia. Your Owls are a treasure.

  8. Neil Rossmiller June 25, 2016 at 5:55 am

    I love the painterly, brushstroke look to the SEO’s markings. Gorgeous! Well done, Mia.

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