A Couple Of Interesting Barn Owl Images

Each of these photos has something just a little bit different about it, at least in my collection of Barn Owl images.


1/60, f/7.1, ISO 640, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed this Barn Owl family back in July of 2011 as they perched inside an old trailer used for storing junk on Antelope Island. If I remember correctly there was one more youngster out of frame that can’t be seen.

It’s almost unheard of for me to photograph more than one Barn Owl in the same image so for me this opportunity was quite unique. I like the owls against the black background and even those ugly old green metal pipes appeal to me because they’re so heavily whitewashed they reek of acceptance by the birds.

As you can see from my camera techs it was quite dark inside the trailer so the owls felt secure and were completely undisturbed by my presence inside my pickup.



1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 640, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I captured this Barn Owl in flight in April of that same year at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. It’s one of the very few times I’ve ever photographed this species with significant amounts of blood on its almost pristine white face.

The diet of Barn Owls consists almost entirely of small mammals (mice and voles along with the occasional shrew or bat) that are swallowed whole so a noticeable amount of blood from prey is nearly always a missing commodity in my photos. But this one had the lower portion of its facial disc smeared with blood. Perhaps this owl is just a sloppy eater or maybe its last meal was a slightly larger bird that had to be consumed piecemeal. On those relatively rare occasions when they do prey on birds they’re known to nip their heads off before swallowing the rest of the body and that could have been the source of the blood.

If we ever have a winter around here (recent temps have broken all-time records for heat) our Barn Owls may soon start flying and hunting again during daytime. I always have mixed feelings when that happens because when they hunt in daylight it often means they’re stressed for lack of food.

But I sure love seeing and photographing them in flight.




35 comments to A Couple Of Interesting Barn Owl Images

    How I love owls. The spangling on the group photograph caught my eye, and like Laura I applauded that the owl had obviously just had dinner (and I am in no position to criticise messy eaters).
    Thank you. I had another vile and pain-filled night and this is a perfect antidote.

  • Dick Harlow

    Beautiful shots Ron! Love your flight shot!
    I think, based upon what I have heard, we all are going to see changes in our winters from now on. We just had the coldest night of the year (2017) with a thin smattering of snow on the ground. Our mountains above 2800′ have more snow. IIt is predicted that temps will be 40 by Friday. Roller coaster winter!.

  • Laura Culley

    Oh just WOW!! What extraordinarily exquisite images! And what an amazing opportunity to capture most of the family in the first–and how I love family shots! But the black background is spectacular. I’d venture a guess that the owl on the left is one of the parents, keeping a watchful eye out on the kids as they sleep.
    You just gotta love barn owls. I can get lost in the magnificence of their feathering, wondering how do they DO that? I mean, seriously, how DO they do that? It’s beyond my comprehension, but oh the magic!
    The blood on the feathers caught my eye first (in the second image). My first thought was joy that the owl had had a good meal recently–survival for another day and that’s good.
    I’m teetering on the brink of breaking out in song, “Oh what a beautiful morning. Oh what a beautiful day!”

    • Yes, I think the bird on the left is one of the adults, Laura.

      And thanks a lot for that ear worm!

      • Laura Culley

        At least that earworm is a pleasant one, especially if you know the rest of the lyrics. I have hundreds more that aren’t so pleasant! I’ve been hearing rewind songs in my head for months now. They just come out of nowhere.

  • Joanne OBrien

    Beautiful photos as yoooosh! I especially love the group shot. Thanks for sharing.

  • Susan Stone

    What struck me about the first image is that the guy on the right seems to be asleep, as is the one next to him. As you move further to the left they become more awake. In the second shot it appears to me that the talons of the right foot are bloody also. Very interesting photos.

  • Marina schultz

    Love first one !!! Amazing capture!!!

  • Marty K

    The first shot is so striking! Wow! And yes, the owls definitely have added their own decorative flourish to those pipes.

  • A feast of Barn owls!!! This is a wonderful image…love the “odd man out” effect of the three facing and one turned away…the green pipe adds a nice bit if color. The dark background makes the birds almost luminous.What a wonderful capture, a wonderful stroke of luck to see so many…including the one not pictured. The second image is so graceful…another wonderful capture. The arc of the wings is beautiful! These birds are so beautiful anyway….

  • Elmer Deloso

    Truly magnificent! Thank you for sharing your work.

  • I thought the first image to be absolutely exquisite ! and my immediate thought was ” There are the 3 wise men and their look-out”……

  • April Olson

    Lovely! The first photo with all the owls is a treat. I rarely see Barn Owls anymore. Except in the rehab. They and their habitat is being displaced by development.

    It is cold outside this morning. Just getting suited up for my bike ride to work. However if we don’t get snow soon I may be able to ride to work up to Christmas break!

  • Judy Gusick

    BEAUTIFUL! The first photo is wonderful against the black background. They are strange looking owls for sure….:) We’ve had one major winter blast BUT warm and windy since taking much of what little snow pack we had with it. 🙁 Interesting on the serrated talon to clean the facial disk……….

    • Judy, Since you live in Montana your comment made me think of the Barn Owl we rescued from barbed wire in the Centennial Valley. That bird was one of the few Barn Owls ever documented in that state. They generally don’t migrate so it’s just too cold for them up there.

      But with this continuing climate change who knows about the future…

  • Carroll Hemingway

    And barn owls have a serrated talon to clean facial disk. Important to their extraordinary hearing used to locate prey…… Barn owls are awesome.