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Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-08-09
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D70, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-05-21 7:01
Viewed: 12202
Favorites: 4 [view]
Points: 180
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
On a fence near a range I found these two Burrowing Owl. (Athene cunicularia).
Before I placed a photo of these Owls from another POV and in another composition.

(Source: A very interesting internetpage about almost all the Owls of the world: www.owlpages.com: )

The first published report of the Burrowing Owl was by Giovanni Iganzio Molina, an Italian Jesuit priest stationed in Chile. His description appeared in a book he wrote on the natural history of the country in 1782.The Latin word "cunicularius" means mine, or miner - an apt description for a bird that makes its home beneath the ground.

Description: A small ground-dwelling Owl with a round head and no ear tufts. They have white eyebrows, yellow eyes, and long legs. The Owl is sandy coloured on the head, back, and upperparts of the wings and white-to-cream with barring on the breast and belly and a prominent white chin stripe. The young are brown on the head, back, and wings with a white belly and chest. Burrowing Owls are comparatively easy to see because they are often active in daylight, and are suprisingly bold and approachable. The females are usually darker than the males.
Burrowing Owls fly with irregular, jerky wingbeats and frequently make long glides, interspersed with rapid wingbeats. They hover during hunting and courtship, and may flap their wings asynchronously (not up and down together).

Size: Length 22-28 cm Wingspan 51-61 cm Weight 170-214g

Voice: The main call is given only by adult males mainly when near the burrow to attract a female. A two-syllable "who-who" is given at the entrance of a promising burrow. This call is also associated with breeding, and territory defence.

Hunting & Food: Burrowing Owls feed on a wide variety of prey, changing food habits as location and time of year determine availability. Large arthropods, mainly beetles and grasshoppers, comprise a large portion of their diet. Small mammals, especially mice, rats, gophers, and ground squirrels, are also important food items. Other prey animals include: reptiles and amphibians, scorpions, young cottontail rabbits, bats, and birds, such as sparrows and horned larks. These Owls are quite versatile in the ways they capture prey. They chase down grasshoppers and beetles on the ground, use their talons to catch large insects in the air, or hover in mid-air before swooping down on unsuspecting prey. They also watch from perches, then glide silently toward their target. Burrowing Owls are primarily active at dusk and dawn (crepuscular), but will hunt throughout a 24-hour period, especially when they have young to feed.
They also eat fruits and seeds.

Breeding: The nesting season begins in late March or April. Burrowing Owls are usually monogamous but occasionally a male will have 2 mates. Adults usually return to the same burrow or a nearby area each year. 6 to 9 (sometimes up to 12) white eggs are laid a day apart, which are incubated for 28-30 days by the female only. They leave the nest at about 44 days and begin chasing living insects when 49-56 days old.

Mortality: Burrowing Owls are able to live for at least 9 years in the wild and over 10 years in captivity.
They are listed as endangered, threatened, or a species of special concern in most states and provinces where they occur.

Habitat: Burrowing Owls are found in open, dry grasslands, agricultural and range lands, and desert habitats.

Subspecies: There may be up to 21 subspecies, including:
Athene cunicularia cunicularia - North Chile from Taracapá to Cautín, Argentina to Paraguay, Rio Gradne do Sul in South Brazil, Uruguay, and South to Tierra del Fuego. Another name for this race is Athene cunicularia partridgei.
Athene cunicularia grallaria - dry interior of Brazil from Maranho & Piauhy south through Goiás & Bahia to Southeast Mato Grosso and Paraná.
Athene cunicularia hypugaea - British Columbia east to Central Manitoba, south to Mexico & west Panama.
Athene cunicularia floridana - Florida.
Athene cunicularia troglodytes - Hispaniola, Beata & Gonave in Caribbean.
Athene cunicularia rostrata - Clarion Island off the west coast of Mexico.
Athene cunicularia nanodes - Pacific coast of Peru to North Chile - a small desert form, It is likely that Athene cunicularia intermedia is the same as this race.
Athene cunicularia brachyptera - Margarita Island and North and central Venezuela - very short wings. Athene cunicularia apurensis is probably the same race.
Athene cunicularia tolimae - West Colombia. Athene cunicularia carrikeri may be the same as this race.
Athene cunicularia juninensis - Andes of Peru, south to Andean regions of West bolivia & Northwest Argentina. Athene cunicularia punensis is probably the same as this race.
Athene cunicularia boliviana - Arid habitats in Bolivia and North Argentina.
Athene cunicularia minor - Savanna of upper Rio Branco in Brazil and adjacent parts of Guyanna & Surinam.
Athene cunicularia pichinchae - Andes of West Ecuador.
Athene cunicularia guadeloupensis and Athene cunicularia amaura are now extinct.
Athene cunicularia hybugaea - Western States of USA, South west Canada, Mexico.
Athene cunicularia hispaniola - Nicaragua, Costa Rica.

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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Zeno: UiltjesPeterZ 1 05-08 04:21
To bobcat08: BedanktPeterZ 1 06-07 11:19
To bobcat08: BedanktPeterZ 1 06-07 11:19
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Critiques [Translate]

The two Owls look wonderful together in this shot, Peter.
You have captured their intent expression in the eyes very well.
I like the composition here.
TFS and regards.

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2008-05-21 7:13]

Hi Peter
Beautiful composition.Exce
llent POV and perfect DOF,Very sharp image with excellent detail.Nice OOF Bg and good text to.
TFS Michel

A stunning image Peter! It stood right out in Gallery and thumbnail...almost like a postage stamp:-) Very sharp and catching the two together in natural setting was a good deal! Very nicely presented and well noted.

Hi Peter
Wonderful composition with lovely light and color
Crystal clear image with superb sharpness and fine detail
Great shot. tfs jon

Bela foto essa foi de mais um tiro certo e muito bem focado parabéns por esta imagem.

Difficult to capture an owl let alone two owls. Furthermor e this is a beautiful specie.
Both are posing very well..

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2008-05-21 8:13]

Hi Peter,
Very nice pkoto.You caught both of them sharp and clear.I liked eye contact and composition a lot.
Thanks for posting.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-05-21 8:28]

Hello Peter,
A great capture of a pair of Burrowing Owls taken with fine sharpness and from an excellent POV as they sit on the fence. I like the composition with the OOF branches forming a frame around them.
TFS this fine image,
Best wishes, Ivan

Splendida cattura di civette, ottimi POV e DOF, molto bella la composizione che ci permette di apprezzare quasi completamente la livrea dei rapaci, ottima nitidezza, bellissimi i colori. Grazie e complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-05-21 10:08]

Hello Peter,
Superb capture of these two Owls, both very sharply in focus. Excellent sharp details and I like the way they're watching you! I like the composition very much!
TFS and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • carper Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1973 W: 119 N: 2582] (8439)
  • [2008-05-21 10:16]

prachtige capture hier Peter.
Ik vind het zulke machtige vogels. Ik vind het altijd een plezier om ze te horen roepen. zeer fraai fotowerk.
groet Jaap

hello peter!
two really fine beautys!
sharp and well composed!
very nice to see!

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-05-21 12:32]

Hi peter. What a pair you have captured.they look like a pair of book ends. your sharp focusing is first class with fine detail and colours. with such a nice pose. I like the DOF. well done TFS.

Hi my friend Peter,
What a cute of pair of Burrowing owl my friend. All are excellent. Great composition. TFS.


  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-05-21 13:08]

Hola amigo,
perfecto disparo y buen pov,
detalles y hermoso pose...
buen trabajo.

  • Great 
  • GLEM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 540 W: 87 N: 750] (10)
  • [2008-05-21 13:11]

hi Peter,
très beau duo que ces rapaces droits sur leurs pattes. J'aime cette scène naturelle, bien composée.


  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2008-05-21 13:28]

Hi Peter

What a lovely sight. Wonderful pair of owls in a lovely natural setting. Pin sharp with lovely clear details and I love the evil look one is giving you



Hi Peter,

Excellent capture of these owls with great pose and composition, sharp details, good BG and nice colours.



Hello Peter,
they are very beautiful and they are very similar to Athene noctua - Little Owl here. You captured them together with great shot. Great sharp focus and POV. composition also great. Thanks. best wishes

Hi Peter,

Feeling a lot better thanks mate slowly catching up with all that I've missed, this is just beautiful, what an excellent capture, you've managed to get both a front-on shot and profile shot all in the one image, the details in the plumage in both birds are just stunning, excellent eye contact, prefect framing and composition, really lovely work, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-05-21 16:48]

Hi Peter,

I must catch up - been traveling for a few days and missed so much! I would be thrilled to get one of these owls and you have a beautiful pair. Both are posing beautifully and have razor sharp details and excellent natural colors. I love those eyes - and the lovely setting.


Hello Peter,
Great to see two posing for you in the same frame, doesn't happan too often.
Nice detail, color, DOF, and I like the overall scene/BG.
Well done & TFS,


This shot is awesome. There is something about it that makes it very appealing. I love the poses, the sharpness, details and lighting in this image. Very nicely captured.

Best Regards,


Hallo Peter,

prachtige compositie en zeer fraaie foto.
Misschien het enige min puntje dat ze op een hek zitten ipv. een tak.


These are very well focused Peter. I like the composition of the two.The image has good lighting and the details(especially the eyes) stand out nicely.
This is one owl I would like to photograph too.

  • Great 
  • JPlumb Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
  • [2008-05-21 23:17]

Hi Peter, this is a great shot of the two owls on the fence together. The one on the left especially seems to be staring directly into the camera. Colour and detail on both birds is very good, and I like the depth of field used in this shot, giving good focus on the two birds with the muted background. Your notes are excellent. I have had a look at the your website recommendation, and have bookmarked it for future reference.

Thanks, John

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-05-21 23:21]

Hi Peter

A lovely shot - great pose with very good detail.


  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-05-21 23:44]

Hi Peter,
They look lovely :o) Expression you've captured is very good. Good composition, colors, POV and background. TFS
Best wishes,

Hi Peter,
An excellent capture of these beautiful owls. Excellent composition and sharp details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hello Peter,
Great composition and excellent focus on these two owls
Well done

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-05-22 5:29]

Hello Peter, Whom are they staring at? Lovely composition and great expression as said by said sir. Superb shot Ganesh

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-05-22 8:03]
  • [+]

Brilliant shot, Peter!!
These two look like a right pair :-)
Great clarity and sharpness.
Superb composition.
Striking eye-contact from the one on the left.
Great DOF.

Very well done!


p.s Man U won the Champions League!!! :-))

Hello Peter,

Very nice composition. Very good focus. Superb detail of the feathers. Very good eye contact. Good light and colours.

Hi Peter,
That must have been an impressive moment to witness. This is a nice capture of two beautiful creatures. They always have those funny and serious look :) You managed well with exposure and nice details. The background and lightning are beautiful! Thanks,

Bonjour Peter
Magnifique photo que ces jolis hiboux.J'aime beaucoup tous ces détails sur leur plumage et leur regard qui sont impressionnant.Les couleurs sont très belles,belle présentation et beau BG
Merci et au revoir....JP

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-05-22 20:28]

Hi Peter,
Outstanding shot of this couple with very impressive sharpness and colours on their plumages. Fantastic eye contact and poses captured with perfect lighting. I like the natural surrounding here. Excellent DOF, POV and composition. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2008-05-22 22:27]

Hi Peter
Nice and interesting shot of the pair of owls. That's one fierce loom they have and they always look at you that way isnt it?
Good details, i like the way one is perched slightly above than the other.
Good details and those "yellow iri-sed" eyes are really beautiful.
TFS & Cheers

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-05-23 2:13]

hello Peter,
Excellent and most interesting shot. I don't have to add compliments on your picture, it is just great.
Best regards

Joli point de vue pour ces deux chouettes.
Bonne journée.

  • Great 
  • Amadeo Gold Star Critiquer [C: 168 W: 0 N: 755] (3323)
  • [2008-05-23 11:00]

Hola Peter, una fotografia preciosa, muy bien compuesta, con excelente luz y color. La expresión de los pájaros hace que me fije mas veces en esos ojos amarillos. Un saludo

Hi Peter, lovely couple in splendid pose, wonderful sharpness, perfect focus and fine details, very well done, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hi Peter,
very nicely composed presentation of great atmospherical beauty. The pair of owls perfectly well placed in front of the light centre, and framed by the softly blurred twigs in a lovely way. Very well informing notes, too. Thank you!
With best regards,

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-05-24 19:20]

Hello Peter

The perspective here is excellent,the pov is wonderful.You have composed the shot well and the background foliage frames these beautiful owls well.
The plumage detail is excellent and you have captured terrific eye contact.


  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2008-05-25 2:03]

Bonjour Peter,

Félicitation pour cette excellente photo. La composition est superbe et les oiseaux sont magnifiques.

Merci pour le partage.

Buenos dias Peter.
Gorgeous photo, everything is fine, light, colour, sharpness.
It is a beautiful greeting imagen.Un antonio.

Awesome! I particularly like the fact you can see the profile of one owl and the front of the other; very informative for identification purposes, etc. Well done!

Hallo Peter
These owls eyes won’t leave me until I leave you with a smiley. It is almost hypnotic and draws your attention like a magnet. Such a lovely pair in a wonderful pose as if they where told to stand like models for you to capture them. This is really great stuff. There are just plenty of beautiful details to admire on image. The patterns on the plumage are really impressive and the thought of polka dots all over the plumage cannot be just be put aside. Great eye contact with the camera especially the owl on the left hand side. Focus, sharpness and overall presentation is in my opinion great. A lovely close-up. Kind regards and thanks for sharing.

prachtige foto, zo mooi scherp, mooie poses en diepgang

Hallo Peter,

Een heel lievelijk plaatje deze twee uilen zo bij elkaar te zien. Zo te zien (ontlasting en uileballen) zitten ze op hun roestplaats. Mooi heldere kleuren en vlijmscherp van opname. De compo is goed alhoewel het niet echt natuurlijk aan doet het hekwerk. Maar ja, daar zitten uilen ook op dus dat doet er eigenlijk niet zoveel toe. Het oogcontact van die twee is fenominaal. Klasse werk. Groeten en tot TFS BOB

Bonsoir Peter,
Il est rare de voir un couple ainsi, c'est une très jolie prise !
Très jolie composition de surcroît, avec une bien belle lumière.

great shot! amazing birds. nice composition and dof

Gracias por tu amable comentario Peter. Tu toma supongo que también difícil de realizar... yo aún no he conseguido fotografiar nunca a estas especies. Excelente luz, coloresy sobre todo un acertado contraste.
Saludos: J.Ignasi Tejedor.

Excelente captura, nitidez, luz y fondo muy bueno, una composición que destaca las lechuzas.

Hi Peter
A great capture of the pair. Wonderful composition.
Best Eyal

  • Great 
  • Adam73 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 208 W: 5 N: 522] (2253)
  • [2008-10-24 13:53]

Beautiful capture of some of my favorite birds. Composition is very nice. Exposure and DOF is wonderful. TFS

Hi Peter,

A truely fantastic shot as they are both beautifully posed, I have burrowing owls in my state that I never photograph that I eventually plan to, they are located over in eastern Washington over in the dryer parts which makes sense, more suitable for them. I am going out owling tonight in the Pacific Northwest with an ornithologist that has done incredible work with owls, not only do I hope to find some tonight but also learn more about this special family of birds. We will be looking mostly for sawhet possibly barred owls. Sawhets are my second most favorite owls of the approximate 205 species of the world, my favorite is the snow owl. Thanks for sharing this super image. Paul :)

Hi Peter,
Well captured frontal and side view of these two owls. Both in great sharpness with interesting patterned detail on the birds.Well done and TFS.

Hello Peter.

Excellent image, nice composition and colors.

JOse Luis.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2008-12-31 5:51]

Hi Peter,
indeed a very lovely and excellent shot. Superbs clarity and sharpness. The pose is attractive and the colours are well presented with nice blurred Bg.
A great shot.


  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2009-01-03 4:12]

Hello Peter,
Amazing capture.Excellent POV,details,clarity and composition.Very well done!

I have to add my two points to this! I'm a bit of an owl nut, and this must be up there with the best images I've ever seen of owls. The timing of your shot was perfect, and they stand out perfectly against the background, forming an outstanding composition.

Hello Peter,
very, very nice work, beautiful photomodels!

Best regards, Leonid

I think you will not mind if I add only two more points for this picture, though it should be supported by two more (2+2)points.

Dear Peter,
The word "fantastic" is not enough to this photo. This is a "once-in-lifetime" capture. Into my favorite photos immediately.... I wish to give at least 10 points.
Best regards from Hungary, László

Bellissima e simpatica coppia di civette! Complimenti anche per la composizione.

Ciao e grazie, Emanuele

Hi Peter
it is your old photos, but are also from my beloved birds, exceptional subject with very good result very beautiful photo
best regards

Hello Peter!

...so take another two points from me... amazing shot, extraordinary composition, sharpness and details, simply masterpiece.


They are lovely indeed, Peter. Good focus and DOF. Thanks for sharing and for your educational notes.

Greetings from Brazil,

  • Great 
  • Zeno Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 483 W: 0 N: 1345] (10867)
  • [2009-05-08 4:03]
  • [+]

Ha Peter,

Ik had deze nog niet gezien maar het is prachtig. Twee steenuilen in een prachtige pose. De compositie is fraai en je hebt zo te zien alle aandacht van deze indrukwekkende vogeltjes. Ik heb ze zelf veel op Lesbos gezien maar helaas niet goed voor de lens kunnen krijgen.
Slechts één van mijn foto's van deze uil is enigszins acceptabel. Volgt binnenkort op treknature. Ben lang weg geweest en moet een inhaalslag maken op treknature.


Hi Peter, what a great moment you capture here, excelent colors,sharp,background...the words are unnecessary...bravissimo. Regards Ravasz

Beautiful shot of the owls. I like the cool colours, the details and the sharpness. Good composition and pov too.

Excellent capture of these owls with great pose and composition, sharp details :)

Best wishes, Dario

Hi Peter

I can see you are quite the bird expert, and thanks for helping me with the dutch name for my stone chat...

Well done on this lovely shot of the pair of burrowing owls.
I really love the great color composition of this shot.
The owls seem to be looking right at me in this picture and i'm sure that can be a bit intimidating up close...

Well done on great clarity, sharpness and exposure of this capture. I think all round it's a perfect 10/10...


Hi Peter

This is a superb potrait of the owls. I really like the alertness that you have captured. Nicely composed as well.


  • Great 
  • tcr Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 158 W: 8 N: 538] (3384)
  • [2009-07-16 16:54]

Hello Peter.
Great capture.
Excellent BG, poses, sharpness, colour.
Great work.

thanks for your welcome

Hi Peter..
Great shot and pose.. their eyes is very effective.. good sharpness and POV.
very well done!!
Best Regards

great photo, sharpness, quality and birds. The composition it's almoust perfect.

Beautiful shot. You have to love the yellow eyes. You've framed it well too. Nice capture. TFS Trevor

nicknames: Corleone and Al Capone.

Pello Peter,
Wonderful shot. Great owls and exhaustive note.
Best regards

Hello Peter,
compliments beautiful photo for this wonderful brace of Gufo, lucky person to successful being to photograph the brace. Much good colors and management of the light, very good.


  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2010-06-22 2:36]

Hi Peter, it's all been said before...wonderful. They look like a pair of gangsters :o) Very well done.

Hi Peter
Very nice owls, great compo.

Hello Peter, a great photo of these little owls with exellent pov and sharpness! Thanks for the explanation.
Ciao, Melania.

Envious, love the comp, detail and the subjects. A truly brilliant shot, well done!


Hi Peter,very nice caputure of the two owls.TFS

Hello Peter,
another very interesting image, light, colors and details fantastic. Another nice picture. Best regards, Paolo

Excellent framing of this Owls pair, in an attractive composition, shrapness and colours!!!

  • Great 
  • brech Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 53 W: 60 N: 95] (267)
  • [2010-12-28 12:08]

An excellent wildlife shot with great expressions. The image is very clear, well composed - just stunning!



Very very very sweet...
Beautiful bird portrait!!!

Hi Peter
Beautiful composition. Well done!

Hello Peter!
Superbly captured. Great detail, simply perfect,i don't think it could have been any better mate...

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