By Dan Weisz
There are several Burrowing Owl families living in the agricultural areas northwest of Tucson. Lately, I’ve been dropping by regularly as each the families now have young and Burrowing Owls always so photogenic.
This is a classic look at one. Burrowing Owls are small, long-legged owls who are active by day. Adults are mottled brown and white with yellow eyes. The profile below is a classic look at one adult. The bird is standing on an agricultural ditch, a perfect place to find burrows. The birds here usually use burrows that had been dug by squirrels or other rodents under the concrete in the soft dirt surrounding the farm fields.
The following photos come in pairs, each with a story to tell. Burrowing Owls usually stand tall, like the below.
But Burrowing Owls can also crouch down low as this one did. He also seems to be nodding out, but this is temporary.
This is a family portrait. Mom, with a very brown breast, stands in the background while her three young stand between her and the irrigation ditch. The bird on the left has a green beetle in his beak.
And the bug is a bit more apparent in this shot. Note the different look of the feathers on the young compared to the adult’s feathering
This photo reminds me of a mother getting her child ready for the school bus in the morning. She is grooming her chick, but the chick does not appear to be loving the attention. Note the chick’s very plain, tan breast and the wide white feathering under its chin.
While Mom is still grooming the first chick, another chick pops up from the burrow. Mom is still busy “combing her child’s hair” and the chick who is looking at the camera seems to be saying “what are you looking at?”
And Mom joins in, stopping the grooming to face the camera. The baby in the back waits its turn.
In this pair of photos, one Burrowing Owl stands on the irrigation ditch stretched very tall with its head off center, looking very much like the Harry Potter character Nearly Headless Nick. Another bird is in the background.
Standing in the exact same spot with its head now back on straight, the Burrowing Owl is next to another in its family who spots something in the sky.
Many more Burrowing Owl photos to come.
We are very fortunate to have Burrowing Owls in our part of the state year-round: