Jackpot! Lifer Northern Pygmy-Owl with Prey

/, Centennial Mountains, Montana, Northern Pygmy-Owls/Jackpot! Lifer Northern Pygmy-Owl with Prey

Northern Pygmy Owl with preyNorthern Pygmy-Owl with prey – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I went looking for a mammal species yesterday and dipped on them but hit the jackpot by getting a lifer bird, a Northern Pygmy-Owl and it had prey! I didn’t need to use a call (I never do), I didn’t need to bait (I don’t) and I also didn’t need to use flash because the tiny owl was out hunting during the day and then it flew into a tree not very far from the road. I have dreamed about seeing these small owls and getting images of them for quite some time.

Now I know this isn’t the best image, there is a shadow on the owls face, the branch it is perched on sticks out in front of the owl’s chest and the tip of it is badly out of focus. The bright sky in the background is slightly distracting, well, maybe the entire background is…

But I got a lifer Northern Pygmy-Owl and I couldn’t be happier!

Northern Pygmy-Owls are tiny at only 7 to 7.5 inches in length and a mere 2.2 ounces but they are ferocious hunters who hunt during the day and can take prey up to three time their size, even something as large as a chicken! Northern Pygmy-Owls can be found in montane forests in their range and that is exactly where this one was found!

Life is freaking good!


I need to work on finding a few more of the tiny woodland owls. Soon!


  1. Humming bird lover July 16, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Hi! Love it love it! So great a find! It is so pretty and wonderful you finally got a photo of it! Love ya’s much mom

  2. Drake Van de Castle July 15, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Congratulations on such a rich lifer image! It will bring a smile everytime your see it! Life is FREAKING good!!!

  3. Keith Nichols July 14, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Congratulations Mia!! It’s a great shot!!

  4. Lois Bryan July 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm


  5. Elephant's Child July 14, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I am so happy for you.

  6. Linda Laugen July 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    So what is a “lifer?” An adult?? Me too, then!

    • Utahbooklover July 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Here is the definition: (noun) A bird species when it is first seen and positively identified by an individual birder. Congrats Mia—nice image I think most of us agree.

  7. M. Bruce July 14, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Au contraire mon frere – I find the image on the verge of perfection!

  8. April Olson July 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Wow with prey too…..Happy Dance!

  9. Nicole Haller-Wilson July 14, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Wow! Congrats!!! Amazing pic! And huge prey…. Amazing!

  10. Patty Chadwick July 14, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Congratulations! This little bird must be a real tough hombre! That prey looks bigger and heavier than the owl by a lot!!!…..

  11. Christine July 14, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Wonderful Mia – excited for you…

  12. Neil Rossmiller July 14, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I can only imagine your excitement! You never know unless you go, as they say.
    A successful trip has been had, Lets see a cherry on top!
    Good stuff.

  13. Olli Haukkovaara July 14, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Congrats Mia on the cool lifer!

  14. Ilze Long July 14, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Congratulations! Who cares about a “perfect” image, when you have in your mind’s eye, this wonderful
    bird with food. Life is good.

  15. Kathy Lopez July 14, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Congratulations on a great lifer!

  16. Carol July 14, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I love this picture!! He definitely has the “deer in the headlights” look….!!! lol….or so they say……Thanks.

  17. Bob McPherson July 14, 2016 at 6:37 am

    Beautiful image Mia. You always make the image good or better.

  18. Roger Burnard July 14, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Hey Kim… hope you are finding a way to stay cool, because it is bloody hot, and humid here in Sarasota, Fl.
    I’m guessing that Mia is thankful she’s up NW in cooler parts of the country. I just wish she would send a bit
    of that “cool” down our way… ;-)))

  19. Kim July 14, 2016 at 6:15 am

    I agree with Liz’s comment! Who cares about shadows & sticks. I love this pic. I’ve never seen a pygmy owl and this is just awesome! And I’m here in Florida!

  20. Liz Cormack July 14, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Who cares about shadows & sticks in the wrong place when you can get a lifer! Congratulations. I love this shot. Yes, life is good!

  21. Roger Burnard July 14, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Mia, this is what makes this game so challenging when trying to get the shot, and so very
    satisfying when things work out. No worries about the sticks in the wrong place, or the
    shadows in the wrong place. It’s a great shot, and what makes it great is the wonderful
    feeling of satisfaction every time you look at it. Burned in your memory is every detail
    of that moment when you clicked the shutter, and realized that you had just captured a
    “lifer.” Yes Mia, “Life is freaking good,” and may it always be so… ;-)))

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