Two Young Short-eared Owl Siblings

These two young siblings were just beginning to learn about the world soon after leaving the nest. They were hanging out right next to a rural road late last May in northern Utah and it was a delight to watch their curiosity on display.


1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 271mm, not baited, set up or called in

This one was intensely contemplating a rock. A big rock. It was obviously fascinated by its size and texture – perhaps it was  the first big rock it had seen since leaving the dense vegetation its nest would have been in. As young owls so often do it was parallaxing the rock to try to get a read on it and that tilted head is always so endearing I had to document the behavior.



1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 400mm, not baited, set up or called in

The other young owl was perched a few feet away on an old, dead tumbleweed and watching the antics of its sibling. At one point this bird performed a magnificent wing stretch but it was so close to the road that I clipped a wing on most of those shots. Here its wings are returning to their normal position after the stretch. This is not a defensive or threat posture – both of these birds were completely relaxed and without an obvious care in the world.

Perhaps this setting is a little busy for some but I actually quite like the stark contrast between the dead tumbleweed perch and the lush colors and flowing patterns of the foxtail grasses in the background.

Last year was a banner year for Short-eared Owls in some areas of northern Utah but so far this year they have been few and far between. I’ve made several recent trips to this same area but I’ve seen very few of them – always flying far off in the distance.

Hopefully they’re just a little late returning because of our unusually wet weather.



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