Sagebrush Country & Short-eared Owls

/, Box Elder County, Short-eared Owls, Utah/Sagebrush Country & Short-eared Owls

Short-eared Owl in Sagebrush Country, Box Elder County, UtahShort-eared Owl in Sagebrush Country – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I see and photograph Short-eared Owls in Sagebrush Country quite often. I spend a lot of time in areas where there is sagebrush dotting the desert, steppes and hillsides here in Utah and I find these amazing owls there. I’ve even located Short-eared Owls nesting at the base of sagebrush and feeding their young there.

Sure I find Short-eared Owls in other habitats here in northern Utah, like the marshes at Farmington Bay WMA and Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, I also find them on alkali flats and near springs, seeps, wet meadows, rangelands and pastures. But I do find them most often when there is sagebrush in the environment.

Short-eared Owl with Sagebrush in the background, Box Elder County, UtahShort-eared Owl with Sagebrush in the background – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I love, love, love the smell of sagebrush, some people might find the aroma too pungent but for me it is refreshing, revitalizing and soothing all at the same time and I’ve come to associate that smell with Short-eared Owls because I find them together so frequently.

These Short-eared Owls were photographed three days ago, the same day I photographed the Turkey Vultures that I shared here recently. It is easy to make Short-eared Owls look great in my photographs because they are such beautiful birds.

Short-eared Owl adult from a distance, Box Elder County, UtahShort-eared Owl adult from a distance – Nikon D500, f8, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I don’t know what is going on with the sagebrush in the photo above, the entire slope in this area is covered with dead sagebrush.  The rancher that owns the land may have sprayed something on the sage to kill it but the skeletal remains of the sage in this spot always makes me feel a bit sad because we are already losing sagebrush habitat at an alarming rate due to development and extractive industries. I was happy to spot this Short-eared Owl land on the dead sage to bring some life to what I was seeing.

Up close or from a distance Short-eared Owls have wonderful appeal and their bright yellow eyes certainly draw my own eyes right to them.

Life is good.



  1. April Olson June 15, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Beautiful photos

  2. Elephants Child June 15, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful things.

  3. Bob mcpherson June 15, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Beautiful photos by Mia. you

  4. Kathy June 15, 2018 at 5:31 am

    Love the photos! The ‘dead sagebrush’ photo is quite beautiful…I find the overall monotone look of it to be especially appealing. The variance of the background from smooth to textured is wonderful! I agree the eyes draw you in but I also love everything about these birds. I have several months to wait for their return here in NE Wisconsin.

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