I had two photo ops with the Burrowing Owls at Brian Piccolo Park on my recent trip to South Florida. One was an afternoon shoot, and the other was the next morning. You might ask why I drive over four hours to see a couple of owls. Well, maybe this will answer the question…
There are some really photographable nests at Brian Piccolo Park! The park ropes off the nests to protect the birds from the many people who pass by every day. This means that the birds are used to people, and they don’t mind the silly photographers who sit for hours watching their every move.
This year my favorite nest had six babies. That’s a lot of little guys to fit down in the hole in the ground! When I first arrived, only the oldest was outside the burrow. Gradually the rest of his brothers and sisters joined him.
My friend Debbie lives close to Brian Piccolo, and she kept me informed of when the babies hatched. I didn’t get down there as quickly as I had hoped. I’d love to see the tiny babies when they first come out of the burrow, when they are about two weeks old.
By the time I got there, the owls were starting to learn to fly. I quickly realized that there’s an alternate purpose to the ropes around the nest: they protect the birds, but they also provide perches for flight practice! I laughed out loud watching the babies flap as they balanced on their tightropes.
Luckily for me, it was a cloudy afternoon, so I could move around the nest area and photograph from the best wing-flap angle. It was pretty breezy, and the little birds seemed to use the wind for their flight practice. Some of the babies were more skilled than others. Landing on Mom or another sibling was a common occurrence…
It seemed as if the babies were begging for food from Mom when they landed on her back. I couldn’t tell if she was feeding them or if she was just telling them to leave her alone. At one point she had two babies on top of her!
The Burrowing Owlets spent quite a bit of time fussing back and forth between each other. They seemed to get louder when they got hungry. When Mom didn’t bring in food, they seemed to pout. One got annoyed and pulled this big bone out of the burrow. He was cute as he stood there with the bone in his foot, watching as an airplane flew over.
Bored babies get inventive. When the bone lost its appeal, the birds turned to the yellow piece of plastic that had blown into the nest area. He took it and dragged it around while he fussed at his mom to feed him. I thought this last picture was adorable!
Stay tuned for more pictures from my second visit to the Burrowing Owls at Brian Piccolo Park!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Brian Piccolo Park?
Check out my Brian Piccolo Park page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!
Oh Jess, you sure got some good ones! Wish I could have been there! Looks like you had a great time with them…. so happy for you (and Rich).
Thanks! It’s a shame my trip was the same weekend you were in Oregon. Oh well, maybe next year!