Juvenile Burrowing Owls VS a Juvenile Peregrine Falcon

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Juvenile Burrowing Owls interactingJuvenile Burrowing Owls interacting

In 2009 I had been photographing a Burrowing Owl family for about 4 to 5 weeks that were located next to the causeway to Antelope Island State Park. It was the year I had moved to Utah and I was thrilled to be able to photograph Burrowing Owls without having to drive several hours to find them. I had taken hundreds and hundreds of images of these young owls and the adults too and this particular burrow.

Eight years ago today I didn’t know that it would be the last time I’d photograph the Burrowing Owl family together and that a juvenile Peregrine Falcon would have a part in that. Not long after sunrise I photographed three of the Burrowing Owl chicks as they played and groomed each other in the warm golden light. I left for a while and went to the island and when I came back I took more images of the young burrowing owls.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon chasing after Burrowing Owl juvenilesJuvenile Peregrine Falcon chasing after Burrowing Owl juveniles

All of a sudden one of the juvenile Burrowing Owls flew out onto the mudflats and started acting odd, it appeared to be acting aggressive or defensive, it hissed loudly and tried to make itself look larger by opening its wings. It took me a few seconds to realize that the juvenile Burrowing Owl was not alone, that a juvenile Peregrine Falcon had flown in and it seemed to be attempting to attack or prey on the young owl.

About that time I heard a buzzing noise not too far from the “mobile blind” and looked up to see a hummingbird looking at me then looking at the owl and the falcon and back at me again. I was torn between photographing the hummingbird and the owl and the falcon for a few seconds.

I didn’t realize at the time that the young peregrine was banded either or I would have tried harder to get photos of the band codes.

The falcon didn’t grab the young owl but it did come close before it flew way out on the mudflats in a location that it could keep an eye on the owls at the burrow. The juvenile owl that had been out on the mudflats flew back to the burrow while making quite a bit of noise.

After the interaction between the owls and the falcon that day I never saw the Burrowing Owls, young or adult, at that burrow again that year. I don’t know of they dispersed because of the falcon, if the falcon did attack them or why they left. I could speculate all day long but I will never know what became of them.

I can say though that it was a very memorable day.

Life is good.

Mia

4 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte August 28, 2017 at 11:20 am

    A lot of predatory character in your shot of the owls. Always on the lookout for something to eat…just, as my daughters will tell you, like me. Excellent composition and detail. Love the falcon pic too. Thx Mia.

  2. Patty Chadwick August 21, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I hope those wonderful, funny little owls all survived…nothing lifts my spirits better than these guys….their expressions and actions are so very, very funny….

  3. Elephants Child August 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    It does indeed sound like an amazing encounter – one of many stored in your memory banks.

  4. Laura Culley August 21, 2017 at 8:41 am

    What an amazing encounter! Thank you so much for sharing! It’s so good to see peregrines in the skies now. And while I came onto the falconry scene too late to participate in their recovery from the brink of extinction, I’m so delighted to be a falconer, one of a group of folks who did that! I’m now involved in providing nest boxes for Kestrels. And the wonder of falconry and falconers goes on…

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