Bear River MBR Barn Owls in Flight – All Small in the Frame

/, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Birds, Box Elder County, Owls, Utah/Bear River MBR Barn Owls in Flight – All Small in the Frame

Barn Owl in flight on a bright winter morningBarn Owl in flight on a bright winter morning – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I’ve mentioned before that I like to take frame filling images of my subjects and that I love taking portraits of them too because of the fine details I can see in them that aren’t as clear when my subject is further away and I also like to take photos where my subjects; whether they are birds or animals, are small in the frame.

When the birds or animals are small in the frame it allows me to show more of the habitat my subjects are found in.

Snow will soon fly here in the valleys, it is already snowing in the mountains, in fact it is snowing in the high country today as I write this. Quite often when I think of winter I think of the opportunities I might have with Barn Owls. Barn Owls are nocturnal meaning that they hunt mostly at night but when there is snow on the ground it can be harder for them to find enough prey during the night to survive and they can be seen hunting more often during the day to capture enough prey. Winter is tough on them.

I’ve had many opportunities at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah to photograph the Barns Owls flying and hunting during the day light hours, close up, frame filling and from far away. Some of my favorite Barn Owl photos where the owl is small in the frame come from that location. Why?

Because of the scenery mostly. Having the marsh anchor the frame with the snowy Promontory Mountains in the background with the Barn Owl in flight. What is not to like about that?

Barn Owl in flight with snowy mountainsBarn Owl in flight with snowy mountains – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Or without the marsh anchoring the photo and the snow topped mountains with blue skies and thin clouds behind the bird. The Barn Owl seems to glow in the early morning light while the sun has just barely kissed the snow on top of the mountains in the distance.

Winter Barn Owl in flight over the marsh at Bear River MBRWinter Barn Owl in flight over the marsh at Bear River MBR – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

And by having vegetation at the bottom of the frame, the frozen Bear River just behind that and more of the marsh in the distance while the Barn Owl hunts along the river.

Foggy, snowy Barn Owl in flightFoggy, snowy Barn Owl in flight – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

When this Barn Owl on the wing flew straight at me while moving through the fog on a snowy winter morning I just knew I wanted the marshy habitat in the frame too.

Usually I can’t show that much habitat when I take a frame filling shot of Barn Owl, they just don’t show that much visual “information” in most cases. By having the Barn Owls smaller in the frame in my photos I can share more visual information about where these beautiful owls live, hunt and thrive.

Life is good.


These photos were taken the winter of 2015-2016.


  1. Pepe Forte November 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Such visually powerful images. I can almost feel the cold. The barn owl certainly earns its stripes. Tough life. Thanks Mia.

  2. Elephants Child November 6, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I do love it when you give us some background (literally and metaphorically).
    Thank you.

  3. Liz Cormack November 6, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Fabulous Barn Owl photos but the last one has to be one of my all time favourites.

  4. David Sparks November 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

    A very convincing argument for “small in the frame”. Referring back to your post a couple of days ago, habitually trying to get large in the frame shots, I forget how impressive small in the frame shots can be.

  5. Kelly Lynn November 6, 2017 at 8:43 am

    These are beautiful Mia! I love to see barn owls in the winter. I enjoy reading your blog and learning more about owls. I witnessed how hard winter is on barn owls last January at Farmington Bay it was sad. They are such beautiful creatures.

  6. Patty Chadwick November 6, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I love the first and third especially…the cloud formation in the first is so dramatic and the flight angle and the frost in the last is lovely…even though I feel cold just looking at it!!

    • Mia McPherson November 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Thank you Patty. I should mention that those are the snow covered Promontory Mountains in the background of the first image not clouds.

  7. April Olson November 6, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Lovely, I love the fog and frosty phragmites in the photo.

  8. Andy McCullough November 6, 2017 at 6:21 am

    These are beautiful and tell a story.

Comments are closed.