I think that I’m sort of addicted to Burrowing Owls. I cannot resist stopping my car to photograph one of these delightful birds if I see it.
These owls are diurnal and relatively easy to find if you know where to look for them. They love to build their burrows (or take over someone else’s burrow) in areas where the ground is disturbed and soft. Often, in non-breeding season, a single owl will occupy a burrow. In a few weeks, however, these birds will begin to pair up and the mated pairs will share a burrow. The offspring will share the burrow as well, so it’s not unusual to see several birds — four or more of them — hanging out by one burrow.
I happened upon this individual a couple of weeks ago while out driving one morning. It had established its burrow by an irrigation ditch at the edge of an agricultural field. Notice the bird’s dirt-covered feet. It had been doing some digging recently.
These owls often perch at the edges of their burrows during daylight hours, as this one is doing. They hunt at night, however, and their prey frequently consists of mice and other small rodents. They are extremely efficient and beneficial predators despite their terminally cute appearance. They may look somewhat ungainly on when perching by their burrows but they are actually excellent fliers and can sort of float along at very low altitudes, looking for unwary rodents on the ground.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO+1.4X Extender, aperture preferred setting, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/1250.