Burrowing Owls — Mom and Kids

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Before beginning today’s post, a note:  the blog will be in suspense for a few days due to the Memorial Day holiday.  I’ll be back with new material next Tuesday, May 30.

From time to time I post images of Burrowing Owls.  These little diurnal owls are among my favorite subjects.   I know where several of them have their burrows and I can almost always count on at least one owl being home when I visit.  Lately, I’ve been looking for owls with their offspring.  The other day I found a mother owl with her children and I made a couple of photos.

These owlets are so young that they may or may not have fledged.  They were perched just at the edge of the family’s burrow and dropped out of sight shortly after I began photographing them.  The main difference in plumage between young Burrowing Owls and adults is that the youngsters have unmarked breasts whereas the adults have patterned breasts.  The youngsters are as of now smaller than the adult birds.  However, they grow rapidly and will quickly attain adult size.

One of the youngsters reemerged from the family burrow after a short period of time and posed again with its mother.  Notice that in both of these images the mother has spread her wings.  That’s not an indication that she is about to fly.  I’ve been told that owls will do this on hot days in order to better dissipate heat.  It was well into the 90s when I took these pictures.  I’ve thought of another possible explanation for this behavior.  The mother owl may have been attempting to look as large as possible on the premise that I was a predator and that I needed to be intimidated.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 500.  The first image, f8 @ 1/1600, the second, f14 @ 1/640.

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