Side lit male Burrowing Owl – Early Morning Light and Wildflowers

/, Box Elder County, Burrowing Owls, Utah/Side lit male Burrowing Owl – Early Morning Light and Wildflowers

Side lit male Burrowing Owl in wildflowersSide lit male Burrowing Owl in wildflowers – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/320, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I saw several burrows with mated pairs of Burrowing Owls at their entrances two days ago up in northern Utah and that excites me because there should be young owls before too long and I really hope they have a successful year for raising their broods. Some of the burrows are quite a distance from the road but a few are close enough that with my long lens I am able to obtain images of the owls that do not require much or any cropping of the original frame.

Western Burrowing Owl populations are declining and in Utah they are listed as a Species of Concern. Part of the reason they are in decline is habitat destruction.

Burrowing Owls lay between 2 to 12 eggs which are incubated solely by the female and hatch in 21 to 30 days, the young owls usually emerge from the burrows at about two weeks of age to wait at the entrance for the adults to bring them food. At about four weeks of age they can take short flights and by 6 weeks of age they fly very well.

I’ve watched this burrow for several years now and although in the morning it doesn’t get the best angle of light I still enjoy seeing the adult owls at the entrance of the burrow and later in the year the owlets learning how to use their wings and playing with each other. Two mornings ago I photographed the side lit male Burrowing Owl with wildflowers in the background but with all the rain we have been having it won’t be long before the vegetation completely obscures the burrow and the owls.

One year this burrow was basically a hill of dirt then the next year there were just grasses at the entrance, another year there was some type of non-blooming weeds and this year these wildflowers appeared. I am not certain what the wildflowers are but next time I am up there I am going to to photograph the flowers and will try to identify them. This burrow has produced quite a few young owls while I have watched it. I am glad that this burrow is on fenced private property because I believe that has stopped people from walking up to and onto the burrow and may have prevented people from getting close enough to harass the owls. Sometimes fences, even devil wire, protect the birds from humans.

Life is good.



  1. Anita Cothern Austin April 24, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    I am especially interested in Owls. You have a beautiful shot of the Adult. I am anxious to see the Owlettes in a few weeks.

  2. Pepe Forte April 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Mia, in every respect that is simply a beautiful photo. Thanks.

  3. Elephants Child April 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Nice to hear that even devil-wire has its uses.
    And of course I am joining the fervent wish that this pair has a very, very successful year. And many more to come.

  4. April Olson April 21, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Can you imagine feeding 12 hungry owlets? What a daily task!

  5. Utahbooklover April 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Wow, what a beautiful image Mia! Hope they have a successful year, in spite of the continuing loss of their habitat.

  6. Nancy Colllins April 21, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Lovely Mia!

  7. Patty Chadwick April 21, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Wonderful, wonderful, beautiful image of owl and wildflowers!!!…how good can it get? Sad to hear these dear lityle owls are on the decline…especially whrn that orange moton in the White House is determined t dismantle the EPA and recind the Endangered Species Protection…makes me foam at the mouth….

  8. Bob mcpherson April 21, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Beautiful images, Mia

  9. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver April 21, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Go Burrowing Owls! An arresting photo that makes me wish either we had Burrowing Owls or we were visiting Utah now. Thanks for the morning bird!

  10. David Sparks April 21, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Burrowing Owls and Wildflowers. Why am I salivating?

  11. Kim April 21, 2017 at 6:14 am

    I love this image. I had no idea they laid 2 to 12 eggs! I learn so much from your posts. Thanks, Mia!

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