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Burrowing Owls may well be the most visually appealing of all of the subjects that I photograph. They didn’t evolve to be cute, but there is something definitely cute about these little owls, with their soft plumage and their seemingly disproportionately large eyes.
Nestling owls raise the cuteness quota exponentially. Once they leave their burrow their behavior is reminiscent of rambunctious children, as they first encounter and then begin to explore their world.
For the past couple of years I’ve spent some time observing and photographing a Burrowing Owl family that resides in a burrow near the edge of a farm road. This year the parents raised five offspring, and for a few weeks the activity of parents and young produced almost limitless opportunities for photography.
The peak action with one of these families occurs when the young birds first learn how to fly. Their initial efforts are comical as they struggle to get off the ground and, once airborne, to control their movement. Today’s image captures a moment when a young Burrowing Owl went airborne, if not for the first time, then for one of the first times, and the consequence of that misadventure.
I can imagine what the adult bird was thinking as its offspring landed on its back. The adult’s reaction to this development seems to be less that of surprise than of weary resignation. Burrowing Owl parents have to put up with a lot!
Image made with a Canon 5div, Canon EF 400 mm DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 1250, f10 @ 1/1600.