This spring I had the awesome opportunity to regularly observe a Burrowing Owl family. For the next few blog posts, I’ll share images of the babies as they ventured out of the burrow and learned how to fly!
For weeks I went by to check on the birds, finding nothing but Mom or Dad sitting on a fencepost. Burrowing Owls can be so expressive, but I must admit that they were not exciting photographic subjects, sitting on fenceposts and sleeping. But one morning I drove up and found five little fuzzballs sitting outside the burrow! Burrowing Owls are typically about two weeks old when they first venture outside for the first time.
I thought I spotted five babies as I drove up, but they dove for the burrow when they heard the car. Only the oldest three stayed up to say hello to me. I was careful to stay in my car and use my Beast lens and 2x teleconverter to minimize stressing the birds. They got used to me quickly and posed adorably for the camera!
I think a photographer must have told these babies how to stand together in cute poses. They are such fun to watch! There were lots of grasses around the burrow, which often made it hard to see the babies. My 1D did a great job of focusing right through the grasses in the morning breeze. A nice bonus was the natural green blur in the foreground of my images.
The little guys stood immediately outside the burrow hole for most of the time I was there. It’ll be interesting to go back after breeding season and get a closer look at that burrow. I have a feeling it’s a lot bigger and deeper than it seems! Finally one of the chicks ran up onto a little mound near his burrow. He stood there looking so cute by himself with all his baby feathers blowing in the breeze!
The littlest guy seemed to be a few days younger than his siblings. He only ventured out once, to interact with his older brother. Then his older brother left him sitting by himself!
The babies must have been fed before I arrived, because Mom and Dad didn’t bring in food the whole time I was there. Just as I was about to drive away, Mom came in with a nice big grasshopper. Not exactly my choice of breakfast, but the babies loved it!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake County Backroads?
Check out my Lake County Backroads 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!
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