From The Vault – Burrowing Owls

Nine Burrowing Owl Chicks, Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, CO

A hard drive treasure hunt, that’s what my friend Todd Caudle calls it. I’ve been working on images for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Friends Group and it’s been fun finding forgotten images. I have a few new tools now and can breathe new life into some of the old favorites.

In the summer of 2004, my first as refuge photographer, I worked on a mini project with burrowing owls. Back then, I was using a world class Nikon F5 and Provia film – you had to wait for the slides to see how your images turned out. I know, crazy! I sat in my blind day after day, baking as the late June, then July sun rose above the prairie. I wanted to be there when the chicks emerged. One day, I watched in amazement as the first, second, and third chicks popped out from the abandoned prairie dog burrow for their first lookaround. Then they kept coming, until nine were standing there, all in a line. Broods of this size are uncommon and some say that the birds somehow know when there’s plenty to eat and produce more chicks. Whatever the reason, I had a blast photographing these chicks for a few more weeks before they were too mobile for my stationary hunting blind. The Western burrowing owl is classified as threatened in Colorado.
Athene cunicularia

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