Barn Owl in front of the Wasatch Range – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
Yesterday I spent time photographing a cooperative yet unexpected Barn Owl at Farmington Bay, unexpected simply because Barn Owl are primarily nocturnal and I saw it during the day.
Barn Owl with bill open and one foot raised – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
In northern Utah seeing Barn Owls during the daylight hours isn’t unexpected during the coldest and snowiest parts of winter because the heavy snow on the ground makes it more difficult for the owls to find enough food during their normal nighttime hunting hours so they extend the time where they look for prey even to the point of hunting all day long.
Also when they Barn Owls are feeding their young they hunt longer into the morning and earlier in the evening than they typically do.
Yesterday none of those conditions existed so it was a surprise to find this Barn Owl out in the open, perched on a sign post during the daylight hours.
To me it almost looks like the Barn Owl is laughing in the photo above.
Northern Harrier flying over the Barn Owl – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 250, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
A Northern Harrier flew over the Barn Owl several times and I expected the harrier to dive at the owl and hoped to get some action photos but the harrier flew away.
Barn Owl watching something in the distance – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 250, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
Just before the harrier flew over the owl lifted off the sign post and dove into the grasses after prey but it must have missed it because it flew right back to the post and scanned the area nearby with its dark, ebony eyes.
It might look like there were clouds behind the owl and the harrier in all of these photos but it is actually the Wasatch Mountain Range with some of the snow that has fallen recently on the peaks that only appear to be clouds.
Rousing Barn Owl – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 250, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
The Barn Owl preened for a bit and then roused to shake out is feathers and I could see that its chest was still a bit damp from diving into the grasses earlier which were probably still wet from the melting frost. Yes, it has gotten cold enough here for frost to form overnight!
Barn Owl on a sign post at Farmington Bay WMA – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 250, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited
I must admit I feel a little concerned about the owl because it is unusual for them to be out hunting during the day at this time of the year. It could mean that prey is scarce or that perhaps the vole population has crashed again which would force the owls to hunt for more hours each day. The owl does not appear to be sick and it definitely can fly so I could also be worrying for nothing.
I hope the vole population hasn’t crashed again because it makes winter harder on the Barn Owls and the other raptors that depend on them for sustenance during the coldest parts of winter.
Barn Owl day time flight – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light, not baited
I had removed my teleconverter because I saw a vehicle coming down the road that I thought might make the Barn Owl take flight and even though I knew the chances weren’t that great for me to get light in the owl’s eyes of it if it took flight I am glad I had removed my teleconverter otherwise I would have clipped the wings of the owl in this frame. There is just a smidgen of visible light in the owl’s eye but I think what I like most about this photo is how the color of the owl’s plumage is complimented by the autumn colors of the grasses behind it.
I didn’t expect to see a Barn Owl at all yesterday and it proves to me once again that you never know what you’ll see out in the field unless you go.
Life is good.