These photos are from one family of Burrowing Owls northwest of Tucson. Their burrow is in the dirt behind an irrigation ditch adjacent to large agricultural fields. Unfortunately, the birds’ legs are often hidden by the concrete ditch, so use your imagination. These owls’ faces are so expressive- they are a real treat to see.
Here is an adult, perhaps the Mom, and three young owls. The kids are napping while Mom keeps a lookout. Note the difference in the breast feathers and head feathers between the young and the adult.
Mom looks both ways, now to the right, while the young owls continue snoozing.
The coast is clear, so Mom takes a quick nap herself.
And now all of a sudden all are awake and alert. I’m shooting from inside my car, but the young owls are very interested in what this large white vehicle really is. Mom could care less. She’s seen many vehicles in her day.
Follow their eyes! The Burrowing Owls are all looking up at an approaching crop duster.
Two of the young owls ducked underground when the plane passed over. They came out shortly afterwards and one owl proceeded to stretch to get his feathers back into place while the owl in the back rouses, ruffling its feathers. You can see the dust rising from their backs.
And the grooming continues as one bird cleans its legs under the watchful eyes of its sibling.
The stretching continues with Mom in the background.
When a bird of prey stretches both wings over its head simultaneously that is called “warbling”.
And then Mom and two youngsters bid me farewell.
I’m sure this is not the last we’ll be seeing of these Burrowing Owls. To be continued.