I’ll give this handsome little owl credit for persistence. And pluck.
1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
Sixteen days ago I posted a couple of photos of this Burrowing Owl that had recently occupied a burrow on Antelope Island. Those were my first shots of the species this season and I was happy to see that the little guy wasn’t banded as so many island owls are. This photo was taken on March 22.
But in that post over two weeks ago I pointed out that the burrow this owl had chosen to occupy was extremely close to a road and I predicted with some confidence that the owl would very soon abandon the burrow. It’s just too darned close to the road and once it was “discovered” by photographers and others the owl would be forced to find a burrow that was a little more remote. That’s exactly what happened to another Burrowing Owl that occupied the same burrow several years ago.
1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
So three days ago I was surprised (almost shocked) to see that the owl was still there! I only got a brief glimpse of it in poor light but I’m almost certain it’s the same bird and immediately after this photo was taken it went down the burrow and I left the area.
It doesn’t appear to have found a mate yet but since this bird has been tolerant enough of traffic and people to maintain its claim on the burrow for two weeks perhaps there’s a small chance that a family of owlets will be raised here this season. I hope visitors to the island give it enough space and respect to succeed.
But based on some of the things I’ve seen on the island in the past I’m not terribly optimistic. We’ll see how it goes…
PS – I suspect some regular visitors to my blog might think I’m a little sanctimonious about including “not baited, set up or called in” in my image techs. I’ve done it for years and some readers are probably tired of seeing it. But raptor baiting (owls especially) has become insidiously pervasive, it’s almost never disclosed and I’ve discovered that most folks aren’t aware of how many “nature” photographers use that unethical technique.
Outdoor writer and nature photographer Michael Furtman was recently interviewed for an excellent article on owl baiting published on PetaPixel titled “The Foul Practice of Wild Owl Baiting“. If you have the interest I strongly recommend that you check it out.