Oh, I Can’t Get Enough Of These Guys

So did anyone out there think that the burrowing owl images from Florida were done?  LOL, oh no my friends, I still have lots of images to share from the 2017 owls … and don’t forget that I visited with my feathered friends also in 2018… so hang on.  Hope that I don’t bore anyone with more images of these cuties.  🙂

So, let’s start of with a typical juvenile burrowing owl.  So dang adorable, I can hardly stand it.  LOL.  I mean, who could look into those big bright yellow eyes and not fall in love?  ❤DSC_8229Of course, they don’t always look like that.  When they first emerge from the safety of the burrow at around 2 weeks old, they appear more like this guy on the right.  I affectionately call this their “hair plug stage”, with those adorable downy looking feathers emerging on the tops of their heads.  The one on the left has already lost most of theirs, indicating that they’re a bit older.  Why would it be you might ask?  Well, the owlets within a brood hatch at different times.DSC_7871As they grow up, they become quite affectionate, not only to their parents who provide excellent care of them, but also to their siblings.  Often they huddle up for comfort and safety.DSC_7252In Florida, there’s always plenty of bugs around the burrow to entertain them.  It’s so much fun to watch them as they get focused on crawling ants, buzzing bees, flying butterflies, or even an errant balloon or plane in the sky.DSC_7598There’s something so special about any head tilt from a young owl.DSC_8258And it seems that the more it tilts it, the more excited we onlookers get.  LOLDSC_8303Of course, so owls get so bored with it all.  🙂  Either that or sometimes they yawn like this when they’re preparing to expel a pellet, which is actually undigested bones, feathers, etc.  DSC_7317Most burrowing owls regularly will take a few moment to stretch their wings … usually a leg goes with it.  Sometimes it’s one side, then the other, and then they end up in almost a bow stretch.DSC_9751Often people wonder how you tell the difference between the adults and the young owlets.  Many times people say size, which works well when they’re younger, but a month or two down the road and size is difficult to use.  Here is a good example of an adult on the left, with the jevenile on the right.  The juveniles possess that creamy looking belly, while the adults will be more barred feather pattern.  DSC_8155DSC_9636In 2017, I witnessed something that I had never witnessed in the years earlier.  This behavior where the adult lays down low and spreads its wings out laterally.  It often also puffs up its wings almost creating a dust cloud in the earth below.  It’s thought that perhaps it’s how and trying to cool off.DSC_8048I even saw little ones seemingly laying on the earth as well.DSC_7723When it comes to eating, in the beginning the parents bring food to their young.  Here a lizard, from a cached stash, was retrieved and offered to the young owl.  It’s so fascinating to watch as they grab the prey with their feet and maneuver it skillfully, eventually able to consume the entire lizard.DSC_9946Self grooming, as well as mutual grooming, are practiced regularly by the burrowing owls.  Sometimes it’s the parents doing the work, other times it’s the siblings.DSC_8930There’s nothing like the shade provided by a tree when the temperatures start to rise.  Doesn’t this one look so content?  I mean, it almost appears to be smiling.  LOLDSC_8216This pair of young owls, gathered at the bottom of a marker post, almost trying to figure out how to reach the perch.  All in good time, my little owls.DSC_7668Yep, before long they navigating the ropes and exercising those wings.  You can almost see how proud they are too when they succeed.DSC_9140Of course, the ultimate goal is that of the nearby trees.  On the hanging branches, it becomes a bit dicey when your fellow mate jumps on in your spot as well.  LOLDSC_0473But they quickly settle down and establish solidity in their standing.DSC_0449In South FL, we often get lots of rain, and people wonder how they fare in it.  I must first say that it’s one of my favorite times to photograph them.  Not only does it cool down for the onlooker, but also their feathers get all wet and therefore textured more.  DSC_9811They fluff up often and try to shake the water droplet off of their feathers.  One more observation is that they tend to get a bit grumpy looking too. DSC_9871Yes, there are few things more enjoyable that spending hours observing and photographing these adorable young owls.DSC_0101They are so full of personalities, silly antics, and tons of expressions … all which leave me laughing out loud … even when I’m there alone.DSC_7444One more image to share before I close this blog post.  As I said before, I have lots more to share so stay tuned.  One day too I hope to share some from my new area as well.  Until that happens, enjoy this ….DSC_8286Next Up:  An unforgettable experience and sighting from the winter

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com           http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

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Teton Birds In Winter

Grand Teton National Park … one of the many fabulous U.S. parks set aside for the public to enjoy … and that we did.  It was towards the end of winter and it had snowed heavily the week before we got there, so it was gorgeous to say the least.

_DSC4860The last blog post featured many of the animals that call the Tetons home.  This blog will now focus on the birds that reside here through the winter season … starting out with a beautiful juvenile bald eagle.500_4492Having moved out west, I’ve been much more exposed to a variety of raptors.  One of my favorites is the rough-legged hawk.  There’s something so beautiful about their markings within their feather pattern.500_2841Of course, their grace and agility in flight are worth noting as well.500_2840Rough-legged hawks are one of the only hawks (the ferruginous hawk and the golden eagle being the others) that have feathered legs down to the toes … making their identification easier.  I just love they way that they appear in flight.500_2885-EditOn the ground, we often see bald eagles are they feed on carrion.  This mature bald eagle worked hard on this carcass in the brush.500_3011500_3162-EditAt one point, we came across another mature bald eagle, sitting so still on a post that I was pretty sure it was a fake sighting … for I’ve been fooled by those before (though usually by owl ones – LOL).  It’s feet were full of what appeared to be nesting material.  The sighting was so perfect that even though I saw it blink, I still questioned my eyesight.500_3460-Edit-EditAs we approached closer, it barely even made any signs of flight or concern.  It was breathtaking!500_3647-Edit-Edit500_3625When it finally looked like it was going to fly away, it did its “business”, re-positioned, and after quite some time, finally flew off.500_3904Of course, it wasn’t all raptor sightings … in fact we saw many water birds, such as the ring-necked duck.  It was so beautiful as it swam around in the water and the sunlight showed off its colors.500_4247We also saw many Barrow’s goldeneye, like this male, but also had female sightings as well.500_4230We found swans in numbers as well.500_4255Then we kept running into the rough-legged hawks again, which I was thrilled with,  Not sure that everyone in the car shared my enthusiasm … but hey, at least it wasn’t another male northern harrier (a definite favorite of mine).  LOL500_4326500_4340The bald eagle sightings were numerous though … sometimes multiples in a given tree.  This one looks like it might have found itself perhaps a muskrat to dine on. 500_4073-EditIt’s so fascinating to observe them as they tear it up in the process of devouring it.500_4086-EditYes, the Tetons are beautiful in any season, but there’s something about the “silence” that the winter season allows that makes it one of my favorites.  🙂_DSC4660-Edit-EditThanks Jen for taking this image of Tom and I enjoying the moment during this fabulous trip to the Tetons!IMG_6673Next Up:  More burrowing owls from 2017 … believe it or not.  Can’t get enough of those special friends of mine.  🙂

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com                  www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

From Fruita to Loma

During the winter “that wasn’t”, we would often head out locally to some of our favorite areas to look for wildlife … mammals and birds.  One of our most visited treks is the trip between us and Highline Lake State Park in Loma.  The usual 13 mile trip can often take hours … because of all of the stopping along the way.  🙂  Such as for cuties like this ….500_1660The domestic sheep herd is moved around the rural farmlands to assist with the grazing of the land.  I never know where they’re going to turn up.  I just loved this darker one in the middle of all of those white sheep.  I guess it had to be different.  LOL500_1635This one was probably one of my favorite ones … I just love the way that the fencing was perfectly framing its face … plus that grassy nose.500_1648-EditOf course, along the way, we needed to stop for this herd of deer, mainly does, with a few buck sprinkled in. all traveling through a field, when it begain to lightly snow.500_1537One of the usuals in the area is the Northern flicker, which is actually a woodpecker, as you can tell from its beak.  I find them so incredibly beautiful with their black speckled bodies and touches of red.500_1262Another usual woodpecker is the downy woodpecker or the hairy woodpecker.  They look quite similar, except for the length of their beaks, with the hairy woodpecker’s being  longer.500_0934However the biggest stars in the area are the bald eagles.  We see them in all sorts of ages … juvenile to mature.  I find them quite interesting and I’ve always found the juvenile ones, with their mottled feathers, a favorite.500_1328500_0853Though not as abundant in the winter, the golden eagles are also soaring about and perched on the buttes and mesas.500_1977Looking at the feather coloration patterns, especially in the tail feathers, as well as the size of the beaks, it’s generally easy to tell the difference between the two.500_1300Yep, there are few things as randomly patterned as a juvenile bald eagle.  🙂500_1291500_1288Always lurking in our parks, rural farmlands, city downtowns, and even my backyard, the Cooper’s hawks keep a keen eye out for prey.500_1747And then there are the juncos … lots and lots of them.  Each season has such varied birding, that’s for sure, and I’m learning the ropes as they say.500_1432Next Up:  Wild horses of Wyoming

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com             http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

February Birds

During the winter in Western Colorado, there are many bird species to photograph.  One of my favorites are the sandhill cranes.  Contrary to the sandhills of Florida, these cranes are primarily transient to the area … and not normally breeding in the immediate area.  We tend to see them by the hundreds, even thousands, in the town of Delta.500_0995There’s something quite special with the sandhill cranes … so long-legged, long necked, and big body, they tend to get a lot of attention when they’re spotted.  That’s even before their calling out as the fly by in pairs, small groups, or in formation overhead.  Though I’m not great at recognizing bird calls or songs, they’re so distinctive that even I know that one immediately.500_1008500_1030500_1043Though Townsend’s solitaire are year-round residents of western Colorado, they sure do look pretty in the winter’s sky and snow.500_1157Plus they are quite inquisitve and give you lots of fun looks.  🙂500_1193Mountain bluebirds are ever-present as well.  Love it when they, like this beautiful male, perch themselves atop trees and give us an unobstructed views.500_0763Closer to home, there are so many American kestrels.  Usually perched on posts or wires, they survey the area around them for the identification of prey.  500_0033Once prey is spotted, they launch into a dive in the general area … or fly out and hover over the land, waiting for the precise moment to score a quite bite.  500_0035500_0040Of course, one of my favorite raptors which I have been thrilled to see almost daily in our rural area are the golden eagles.  I remember my first golden eagle spotting in Denali NP (AK) … I was happy to see them from a distance like this.  Their underwings are quite easily identified during those months when the golden and the bald eagles, including the immature bald eagles, share the same landscape.500_0183-EditNow here in CO, the usual golden eagle sighting, though never a boring or mundane sighting, are more from a distance like this … well, of course, this is cropped somewhat, but you get the picture.  LOL500_0450I know that I’ve shared some of my domestic sheep images, but I truly can’t get enough of these animals.  Guess this one thinks it’s a head above the rest.  😉500_0568Even closer to home, in fact in our back yard, we often find Cooper’s hawks cruising by the “buffet line”, otherwise known as the bird feeders.  They’re pretty keen to its visits by the Cooper’s, but it sure tries to score.500_0668It will perch on our perimeter fence until the right moment, then launch for the buzz by.500_0669Love that I can view this happening in my own back yard … and then across the street to the farmlands when it blends in quickly.500_0670-Edit-EditOn a rare snowy day, our feeders are visited daily by a variety of local birds, ever vigilent for the next fly by.  850_0438I hope that you enjoy my local birds as much as I do.  🙂

Next Up:  A day in the park

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com              www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

Winter Raptor Visitors

During the winter, western Colorado is home to many raptors.  Some are residents … some just passing through.  All are fascinating to watch as they go about their business.  The Grand Valley Audubon Society hosts what they refer to as “Tomacanbac” field trips.  It’s sort of a play on words … for the field trip actually originates in Grand Junction and goes to Mack, CO and back.  😉

One of the most prominent raptors soaring through the skies in the winter are the bald eagles.  On an given day, you can look up and find them at various different ages.  One day Tom and I actually visited a local park and found 14 bald eagles!  No overlaps either … we could physically see all 14 at the same time!  Love it.DSC_2488When we’re not seeing bald eagles, it’s the golden eagle which steal the show.  While the balds hang out mostly near the water areas, the golden can be seen perched on top of poles, bluffs, mesas, and of course, soaring in the skies.  DSC_3164In south Florida, our main staple raptor was the red-shouldered hawk.  Not here … in CO it’s pretty much the red-tailed hawk.  They seem to be everywhere.

What a thrill it was to witness an altercation between the golden eagle and a red-tailed hawk, who incidentally was the aggressor.  As the golden was soaring by, out of nowhere came the red-tailed hawk, all ready to get up in the golden’s face.DSC_3157As the red-tail got closer, the golden simply turned to get a glance at it.DSC_3158It changed it’s direction slightly, as if to brush the red-tail off a bit, but it was relentless in its pursuit and kept attacking the golden.  DSC_3159DSC_3160Eventually, the red-tail hawk and the golden eagle parted ways without too much contact, but it’s always so impressive when the smaller raptor attacks the larger, more powerful one.DSC_3016On the other end of the size spectrum is the American kestrel.  It’s also quite common out here, often seen in the farm lands on just about every block.  DSC_3196Other hawks such as the ferruginous hawk are a thrill to see.DSC_3261A personal favorite of mine are the northern harriers … especially the males, know as the “gray ghost” for obvious reason, which are easily distinguished from the darker reddish brown females.  They say you see females to male in ratios of about 4 to 1, but not on these days … they were seen more like 1 to 3 … males rule!DSC_3205One of the coolest, and most cooperative, sightings during the two trips I attended was this one … it remained a big question as to its identity.  Some thought sharp-shinned, while others thought Cooper’s hawk.  After our leader sent these in to the experts, it was determined to be a 1st year Cooper’s hawk.  What a gorgeous and very tolerant bird.500_3405This hawk practically seemed to be working it for the camera … as it it were dropping clues along the way.  LOL500_3370-Edit-EditAnother great sighting was this one … the prairie falcon.  To me, it looks a bit like a larger version of the kestrel, with a single eye stripe.  Since this day, Tom and I have seen them in various locales … always a thrill to observe and photograph.500_3510A bit off subject, we often find these slying about in the overhead skies.  Apparently, these guys land at GJ airport, where they re-fuel, and then make their way to Colorado Springs.DSC_3166So, basically you  never know what you’re going to find in the overhead skies.  Often, it doesn’t even matter if it “should” be there or not.  Can anyone remember when Jacksonville, FL had a visit paid by a SNOWY OWL?  True story.  🙂

Next up:  Other local fun

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com              www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

Neighboring Birds Just Outside

Since moving to Colorado, I have learned a lot about hawks.  I’ve learned that not every hawk is a red-shouldered hawk … in fact, out in CO, it’s highly unlikely that any of them would be.  🙂  However, one thing that’s for sure is that all of them are quite remarkable and beautiful.DSC_2522While I thought that Florida had a lot of eagles, there are plenty of them here as well.  The biggest difference is that here in CO, we have bald eagles, but we also have golden eagles, which I have found completely fascinating!DSC_2502We also have Cooper’s hawks, in addition to sharp-shinned hawks, which are both smaller hawk species … the type that are likely to hang out in your yard looking for some unsuspecting birds.DSC_2681While in Florida we had eastern screech owls, here we have western screech owls.  They are just as beautiful to hear late in the dark of night and even to witness as they peek out of their cavity or owl box dwelling on cold days as they sun themselves.  We have so many western screech owls out here … that on the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count day, the 15-mile circle from Grand Junction, we found 93 of them … the highest in the nation!DSC_2554-EditSometimes the wildlife is right outside your window, as was in this case.  This beautiful sharp-shinned hawk was poised right outside my window standing on our rain gutter downspout._DSC4581We have a variety of woodpeckers and I was quite delighted when I found this gal at a nearby state park.DSC_2436The rivers are full of a variety of ducks and other water birds … some residents and some migratory.  These common merganser ladies are fairly common and often found in the company of other waterfowl.DSC_2679The views ain’t too bad either … as evidenced by this shot of the Book Cliff Mountains … only only of the mountains in our distance, of which we also have the Grand Mesa and the Colorado National Monument.DSC_0001-Edit-EditSome nights you can see pairs of predator birds, such as these two bald eagles or great horned owls, as they roost in the early evening.  DSC_3279-Edit-EditOf course, the sunsets can be quite colorful and very relaxing as well.  Ahhh!DSC_0017Yes, western Colorado is quite a magnificent place to call home and is close to many other equally fascinating locales.  Yep, we love it here.  🙂

Next Up:  Let’s go search for raptors!

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com          www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

A Salt Lake City “Layover” Vacation ;-)

What’s one to do when you travel through Salt Lake City, Utah on your way back home?  Well, spend an additional day or two and get out and see the sights while you’re there.  I mean, it’s sort of like 2 vacations!  😉

The first day we spent was a rainy, cold, and cloudy day at Antelope Island, just outside of SLC.  These bison didn’t seem to mind though, and in fact, I think that they rather enjoyed it.  One of them was jumping and kicking as it ran across the landscape.

IMG_6172That night the rain turned into snow and we woke up to a winter wonderland, which I totally appreciated after feeling like I got cheated out of my winter.  🙂IMG_6202The next morning, we came across this frisky skunk running through the frozen field.  Believe it or not, it was my very FIRST LIVE skunk I’ve ever seen in the wild.  So though the images are far from the greatest, I was quite excited.  Let’s just say, the bar for a better shot was set low.  LOLDSC_2120DSC_2132Lots of raptors were out scouting the area for some dining pleasure.  Several of them were the American Kestrel … such a beautiful bird.DSC_2156DSC_1989With the weather clearing in the distance, the views of the snow kissed landscape were incredibly beautiful.IMG_6213IMG_6216By now, most of you who regularly read the blog know that I have a slight infatuation with Northern Harriers.  Maybe it’s because they have that “owl disc” face and I absolutely adore owls.DSC_2305A great blue heron graced us as well as it glided by us … so lovely against the mountain backdrop.DSC_2263Probably my favorite for the day though was this absolutely stunning rough-legged hawk.  We encountered it numerous times, which was just fine with me.  DSC_2343It’s so amazing to me that a raptor of this size could so delicately land and perch on such a small branch.DSC_2358It surveyed the landscape for perhaps some small critters making their way through the snow.  I love how their leg feathers cover all the way down to their feet.DSC_2377Alas, the time was right for the chase to begin as it launched into the air and towards its hunt and prey.  Just look at those awesome wings and markings.DSC_2404So graceful in flight and quite quiet as well in the silence of the winter … off it went.DSC_2408However, there were lots more of the northern harriers passing through and while they generally are not the most cooperative subjects for photography … some may even find them frustrating and annoying for the way they appear to dodge the lens… but this lady gave me a pretty good pass by.DSC_2307Absolutely stunning to me as it flew by us … with the backdrop of the snowy mountains and the frozen grasses beneath it … it was the perfect send off for us.DSC_2425Of course, one of the best sightings was that of the elusive Jen Hall, who was gracious enough to come down to SLC and spend the day with us.  IMG_6226

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com       http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

Photography Fun In Western Colorado

Living in Western Colorado has its advantages … one of them is that there never seems to be a shortage of places to look for landscapes, birds, or wildlife.  Just a few hours from home provides endless opprtunities.

Like these sandhill cranes, that congregate in fields numbering in the thousands, as they migrate through in the winter months.  It’s been wonderful seeing them, though I’m not going to lie, I sure miss the baby colts.  🙂

DSC_9670Speaking of congregating by the thousands, the Canada geese do the same!  One day we watched them fly into an area park, doing aerial acrobatics as they prepared to land.  I’m talking complete 360’s!  Snow geese also migrate through which has been fascinating.  A new bird for me was the greater white-fronted goose, seen below showing off and stretching out its wings for the crowds.DSC_9864While I thought that central Florida had its share of turkeys … but on the western slope, I’ve seen so many more!  Recently, we came a cross a group with the displaying male running the females along.  They are quite fascinating when they fly too.DSC_9992-EditOne of my favorite birds are now the mountain bluebirds.  You can imagine my thrill when I spotted these 5 on the tops of a bare tree.  True bluebirds of happiness for sure.DSC_9911-Edit-2Eagles also seem to be everywhere, whether they’re golden eagles or bald eagles.DSC_0098Some of the wildlife that call the area home are desert bighorn sheep, elk, moose, foxes, and other things, like the mule deer.DSC_0197Of all of them that I’ve photographed, I think I found this one the most amazing.  I mean, look at those gigantic fuzzy ears!  LOLDSC_0222-EditEven the rabbits are so adorable.DSC_0281-EditI have two more bird species that I’ve encountered that were new to me since moving out west.  The first is the evening grosbeak, which is actually a rather large finch.  the male, shown in the images, is such a beautifully colored bird.  They feed on insects, saps, berries, seeds, and buds.  This day, we encountered lots of them all gathered in a tree after some snow had fallen.  So very wonderful to hear them singing up a storm and jumping around as they fed.DSC_0672-EditDSC_0755-Edit-EditThe other new bird for me was actually a fascinating raptor, an owl … a very tiny owl … the northern pygmy owl.  As the name implies … how small is this bird? … so small that we almost drove right past it.  Thankfully we didn’t.  A quick through the binoculars was all that it took to confirm our finding.  Wow!  We were quite pleased.  Standing only 5-9 inches, it’s length is 7-7.5 inches and it only weighs just over 2 oz.  DSC_0479This owl was quite the cooperative one too … giving us lots of eye contact, as it eyed the surroundings about it as it prepared to hunt.  As we were photographing it, I couldn’t believe that we actually spotted it.  As they say, sometimes when you’re not looking for something, you find it, or should I say … it finds you.DSC_0343Now when I first went to capture an image, this is what I saw.  :-O  My first impression was something like “what’s up with this one?  Is it blind?”  Of course, I quickly remembered that they possessed white-framed black dots on the back side of their head feathers, which are meant to resemble another set of eyes.  OK, so this must be what our parents meant when they would tell us that they had eyes in the back of their head.  LOLDSC_0415But alas, it had the most brillant yellow eyes … where they should be … confirming our ade identity as it being a mature adult.  Eventually, it must have spotted something too good to pass up, so it left its perch.  It was a fabulous encounter.  Just me, my friend Amy, and this beautiful raptor!  Already looking forward to a reunion.  😉DSC_0367-EditHope that everyone enjoyed the blog post :  stories and images

Next Up:  Mountain goats galore

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Exploring The Carson Valley Area

I had never visited the Carson Valley area before, well except for the hot air balloon that we took several years back over the Lake Tahoe area.  But I don’t think that really counted.  When I had the opportunity to do so in early 2018, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew that it would be an adventure.  One thing that I didn’t expect was the scant amount of snow on the ground.  I guess everything has its cycles.  However, the scenery was beautiful … so vast and open.

_DSC4553-EditWhile the landscapes were endless and varied, it was the wildlife that I primarily focused on.  Came across this beautiful buck foraging on the winter’s landscape … minus the snow and all.  😉DSC_0831Like I said, the landscapes were amazing and quite different than I expected.  Of course, our weather was quite threatening and the images projected that moodiness.  Looking across Washoe Lake was incredibly beautiful and the sounds of nature were all around us._DSC4568-Edit-Edit-2Found this Cooper’s hawk in the bare trees, right next to where I set up for that above image.  It cooperated for a bit, then had enough, and flew across the lake.DSC_0902Raptors were seemingly everywhere!  In the beginning we seemed to be scouting out the ever-present red-tailed hawks.  Their ID is generally quite obvious and they were hunting the fields.DSC_1520Then swooped in my favorite non-owl raptor … the northern harrier … not just any northern harrier, but the male, aka the “gray ghost”.  I don’t know what it is, but I find them so fascinating!DSC_1530While the adult male is gray in color, the female and juveniles are more of a brown color.  Their usually ID is that white strip on their rump, topside.DSC_1749At one point, we heard a hawk giving non-ending screams as it approached closer to where we were shooting from, which incidentally was our vehicle, on a day that had easily 40 mph wind gusts relentlessly blowing my long lens around!  DSC_1572As it flew overhead, we identified it as a ferruginous hawk.  Such a gorgeous raptor as well.  🙂DSC_1639As we were headed out to a park in the area for some owls, we did a double-take on something that we spotted out in the field.  After scoping it, we realized it was a mature golden eagle and it was feeding on what appeared to be a coyote relatively fresh kill.  Golden eagles have a wingspan of about 72-96 inches!  Now that’s one big bird!!DSC_1847We also spotted this lovely coyote working the field along the river.  It kept a keen eye on us, as I’m sure that they’re not always welcomed on the farms.  Looked quite big and healthy.DSC_1443Then out of nowhere … I saw them… wild horses.  I was quite excited and began to take REALLY far away images.  We drove out more closely to them, but still a respectable distance … after all, I wanted them to not feel threatened and act naturally.  To my surprise they came closer …DSC_0949… and closer ….DSC_0934… and closer.  I just loved it!  I also loved all of the sticks, feathers, and such in this horse’s mane.  We stared at each other for a bit … I wondered what it was thinking.DSC_1223Then a younger one came up.  By now it had begun to rain slightly and the winds picked up again.  How adorable is this young one?  So free, so natural.DSC_1289It met up with one of the mature horses and nuzzled it a bit…. Right in front of us, I might add!  A few snorts and vocalizations were overheard from this close distance, as we had the car turned off the whole time.DSC_1340These two were quite interested in us and approached our car.  By now, I was a bit unsure of how they might react and Tom had his finger on the automatic window.  They were so incredibly beautiful!DSC_1246After staring at us for a bit, they turned and retreated back to where they came from.  I would imagine that they visit the lake across the street often because when we were there, we saw evidence of such.  LOL.  DSC_1368That was pretty much an overall memory of our time out there.  It’s definitely an area that I want to re-visit one day.  Loved it.  ❤

Next Up:  Back to fun times in Colorado … and meeting a new “friend”.

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Hang On Buddies … I’ll Be There Soon :-)

Well, look at what we have here?  Ma … Pa …. we have visitors  🙂

One of the most missed photographic subjects to me are the burrowing owls.  It’s isn’t that we don’t have them here in western Colorado, it’s just that these south Florida owls I have come to know and love, are just too darned cute.  In CO, our burrowing owls occupy previously constructed prairie dog burrows.  In FL, they construct their own burrows.  As I’m preparing to return to visit with them again, among other things, I wanted to take a look back at images from 2017.

DSC_5147Young burrowing owls are some of the most entertaining subjects to ever photograph.  In years past, I would spend hours, many days a week, watching and shooting them (digitally of course).  Most have some the most beautiful big yellow eyes, which are incredibly captivating.DSC_5335But not all … as you can see this parent owl on the left has light brown eyes.  Both of its offspring though did have the more common tradition yellow eyes.DSC_5235The young owlets really have a sibling love for one another, though that doesn’t mean that they always play nice.  LOLDSC_5323Mom and dad always stand by, supervising when necessary, but primarily watching over the burrow for signs of trouble overhead.  With several rapid succession “barks”, they get their mate and their young into the burrow in record speed.DSC_5315The adults generally are quite tolerant of onlookers … I mean, why else would they intentionally build their burrows in highly public, quite busy places.  Over time, I’ve become quite understanding of their behaviors, sensing when my presence is not welcomed or when “close” is “close enough”, regardless of my actual distance.  To me, that’s the most important thing.  As a wildlife photographer, I want my subject to be acting totally natural and feeling quite at ease.DSC_5675In this particular burrow, the young siblings had all sorts of colors for eyes, as you can see.  It’s increasingly more common now than before to see owlets with varying degrees of dark eyes.  Believe it or not, they have their own intrigue to them.  Curious expressions are endless.DSC_5468Adult owls are not only taller and bigger than their young, but they also have more speckled feathers throughout.  You’ll notice that the owlets have that creamy colored chest and belly when they’re young.DSC_5379Most burrows have anywhere from 3-5 young ones, though they can range from 1 to 7!!  Imagine having to take care of 7 young mouths!DSC_6070You can almost always tell the younger of the bunch from the others … sometimes it’s their size or sometimes it’s their higher needs that they demand action from the parents.  LOLDSC_5574The parents go out and hunt for food in the evening or early morning hours, often caching it nearby for later retrieval and consumption.  You can always tell when the food is brought back to the burrow … as the young ones will frantically emerge and begin a tug-of-war over it.  DSC_6426They also assist in the grooming of the young ones, offering up “canoodling” sessions.  So sweet.  🙂DSC_5807When the young ones lock eyes with you, it’s so hard to look away … and why would you.  You can literally see their little minds at work.  See, for the first approximately 2 weeks of life, they remain in the safety of the burrow.  When they emerge, they are amazed at just about everything in their world.  When I see these images, I just about cry at how much I miss these sweetest of faces.DSC_6344-Edit-EditThey do everything they can to learn about everything.DSC_6263Often that includes looking up in the air too.  They detect small insects flying about, balloons in the air, planes in the sky … you name it.  They also watch other birds in the sky and quickly learn for themselves who friend and foe is.DSC_6822Yep, silly expressions are many and have made me burst into laughter on site!  LOLDSC_6876-EditI love it when they enter the flowers … OK, so they might be weeds, but the yellow in them is still pretty with their yellow eyes.DSC_6937Like our own young, the discovery of their feet and how they can control its movement is always a fun adventure for them.DSC_7011One last shot of this particularly sweet burrowing owl … really looks like it was a GQ model or something.  Oh yeah, I can’t wait to be united with these little ones…. so many new next generation owls to meet.DSC_6980I find it fascinating that when they yawn or prepare to cough up a pellet, you get this face.  Can’t help but notice how their open mouth and their beak form a heart shape … can’t think of anything more appropriate.  ❤DSC_5176Hope that everyone enjoyed my “friends”.  Be on the lookout for more images to come.

Next Up:  Carson Valley wildlife

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com