Burrowing Owl On A Boulder Perch

Like many bird photographers I find Burrowing Owls to be a challenging subject for their tendency to perch in areas that are either unattractive (burrow entrances) or have obscuring vegetation.   Occasionally I do find one perched on top of sagebrush giving a relatively clear view of the bird but I have a fair number of images with such a perch and I’m always on the lookout for something a little different.


burrowing owl 9092 ron dudley

 1/5000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4tc, not baited, set up or called in

Then six days ago on Antelope Island as I rounded a curve in the road I encountered this Burrowing Owl on a large rock with a clean setting and background.  It was a cool morning and the sun had only recently come up so this bird was obviously enjoying the warming rays and showed no signs of nervousness as I approached.



burrowing owl 9138 ron dudley

  1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4tc, not baited, set up or called in

It assumed this raised-leg pose for quite a while and both of its feet were obviously muddy so I suspect the owl may have spent part of the morning remodeling its burrow.  It was in no mood to give me any pose variety so after taking a few shots I left the area with the owl still on the rock.  It always pleases me to photograph a bird when my presence didn’t cause it to flush.

As I’ve said in the past I strongly support banding programs that have well thought out bird conservation goals but I’ll freely admit that I was pleased to find a Burrowing Owl without bands on its legs or antennae/transmitters sticking out of its back.  That doesn’t happen much anymore.


11 comments to Burrowing Owl On A Boulder Perch

  • Charlotte Norton

    Sensational shots Ron! Thanks for sharing! How do you locate and shoot such wonderful birds?

  • Terrific shots. I’ve only seen one Burrowing Owl. The burrow was in the middle of soccer fields at Brian Piccolo Park in south Florida and the bird seemed to be unperturbed by two teams practicing nearby. I wasn’t able to get a clean look because of the grass surrounding the burrow. I’m sure if I saw one in the pristine setting where your photos were taken, I would experience the buck fever Wally described (I like the trampoline description).

  • Susan Stone

    This is a gorgeous bird. I wish I had opportunities to see them.

  • Ooh and aaah. How wonderful to see a burrowing owl. How wonderful to see the mud as the only decoration. And yes, I am very, very glad to see the bird – as it is meant to be. Free and unfettered.

  • Wonderful photograph, Ron! Looks like it was set up in a professional studio. I’m ecstatic just to spot one of these beauties and get so excited if it’s in camera range all my images turn out looking like I was on a trampoline when I pressed the shutter release. Buck fever is alive and well even at my advanced age! 🙂

  • Jorge H. Oliveira

    I agree with you.They should find some other way to identify birds.It is so unpleasant.
    And yes I know that feeling when we are photographing a bird and it doesn’t fly away. It’s like if we were part of the family.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Patty Chadwick