Burrowing Owls — Portraits

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I’ve posted a fair number of Burrowing Owl images recently and I’m going to post a couple more today.  I don’t want to be guilty of going to the well too often, so these will be the last images of this species that I post for a while.

Burrowing Owls are photogenic birds and they are often quite cooperative.  They frequently allow me to approach closely and, at times, seem to be almost indifferent to my presence.  That allows me to make close ups that no other species would permit.

I have two rules when I photograph this species.  I never remain more than the absolute minimum time required to make a few decent images and I try not to put so much pressure on the owls that they become visibly distressed.

I made both of the images within 10 days of today’s post.  These are two different owls, photographed at different locations, about a mile apart.

I’m particularly pleased with the second image.  It shows a lot of detail.  If you look closely at this owl’s plumage you’ll see that many of its feathers appear to be fringed.  Several species of owls have fringed feathers.  The fringes serve to break up air as it passes above and through the owls’ feathers while they are in flight.  That results in suppressing sound, enabling the owls to fly very quietly.

Most owl species aren’t particularly fast fliers.  They don’t need speed in order to hunt, because they specialize in ambushing prey.  I’ve watched Burrowing Owls in flight on many occasions. They aren’t especially fast and they seem to fly almost erratically, bouncing up and down in the air as they fly.  I’m not sure how this flight pattern benefits these birds.  However, since Burrowing Owls frequently are diurnal hunters it may be that having a somewhat erratic flight pattern makes it easier for the owls to surprise their prey, consisting primarily of small rodents, lizards, and insects.  That, plus very quiet flight equals stealth.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO).  First image, ISO 1000, f7.1 @ 1/3200.  Second image, ISO 800, f7.1 @ 1/3200.

One Reply to “Burrowing Owls — Portraits”

  1. Very Nice Steven! Great images and information!

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