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

Lending Nature A Hand

One late afternoon, one of my neighbors called Tom & I and asked us to come over.  They told us that they found a baby bird of some type and didn’t know what to do with it or how to care for it.  So we ventured over and I couldn’t believe what they showed us…..

There it was … the cutest little baby owl – an eastern screech owl to be exact.  I was so excited and remembered how 2 years ago, we had a pair of owls raise 3 babies in our backyard.  Though I had continued to see them over the last 2 years, they didn’t nest in our yard this year or last.  This little guy made my heart melt and I immediately called my friend Amy, who is a falconer and had just got an eastern screech owl of her own for advice.  Tom immediately looked around for where the nest might have been and noticed a tree cavity not far from where it was found.  He gently returned the young owlet and we kept watch on it to see if the parents would return.  (Note: the image below is not my image).FullSizeRender-1Before long, there they were … mom and dad.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw them too.  They were the same owls (no doubt about it) that raised their young with us.  I was ecstatic to say the least._DSC9055Over the few weeks or so, I visited often, from another neighbors yard who had a better view of the cavity.  Using a long lens, and often teleconverters too, I photographed both the parents and the baby.  At first, the young owlet seemed to be lost (size-wise) in the cavity._DSC9071Mom is a beautiful gray morph and she was sleeping in the cavity when Tom first reunited the owlet with her.  I guess that it must have climbed on the adult and fell out of the nest.
_DSC9108Dad is the red morph and he was almost always nearby._DSC9120The young owlet would often peek out of the cavity.
_DSC9095Mom, and Dad also, was quite accepting of my presence and I always gave them no reason to be alarmed.  Part of me wondered if they knew that we played a role in helping out their baby.  Though I’m sure they would have taken care of it otherwise, it would have been vulnerable to the many cats in the neighborhood._DSC9289Before long, the baby grew up and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before it would leave the nest.  _DSC9280It was so cool to find them everyday standing guard over their baby.  Such dedicated parents.  _DSC9254This was the last shot that I took of the owlet before it fledged.  I was so happy that it survived and hoped that it would survive being out of its nest as well.  How cool was all of that?  I’m so glad that my neighbors found it and knew to call us to assist in coming up with a plan of action to help it.  Glad to help.  Happy ending too.  🙂
_DSC9327Update:  The last of these images was taken in mid-May.  The cavity nest that the owls were using to raise their young was destroyed in a summer storm, though the young owl had already abandoned it.  We weren’t sure what happened with the owls.  However, the other night, Tom saw one of the owls fly by him.  When he called me to come see it, two more joined the first.  Though it was dark, we can only assume that it was this family.  So good to know that they were well and that the “baby” was out hunting with them.  🙂

Next up:  Osprey overload  🙂

© 2016  TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

A Passion & Cuteness Alert

Everyone knows that I LOVE BEARS of all types.  Most people know that I ADORE OWLS of all types.  Not sure if everyone knows how much MY HEART MELTS FOR CRANES … but it does, especially sandhill cranes and their young.  🙂  So when I learned about a loving pair of SHCs that were raising a newborn, I knew what I had to do … that was to jump in my car and drive up to my next photography shoot, starring this young colt.  I was so excited and left so quickly that I forgot my ID, my wallet, and had no money, debit, or credit card on me.  Not even a red cent was in my car.  No biggie, right?  Just turn around and pick it up, right?  Well, I was already about an hour or so north when I realized it and it was about 4:30 AM!  Would I even have enough gas to get me home?  Quick thinking, I called and prayed that Tom would answer the phone.  Yes!  Poor Tom was sleeping and probably in mid-dream when I abruptly woke him up and off to the rescue he went, as we coordinated our progress and met at the precise location where we would both intersect on the road.  So, big time THANKS to Tom … not only my sherpa (though on this day, he was relieved of duty), but also my courier.  He’s absolutely the BEST!

Now, back to these cranes…. when I arrived fashionably late, to meet up with Jess and Michael, there it was … the Birthday Boy … 1 Week Old!  The lone offspring to this beautiful pair.  It was resting on the grass as mom and day were foraging.

_DSC7895As they would make their way to better “bug locations”, so too went the little colt, which Jess nicknamed Uno._DSC8187As wonderful as it was to see the little one exploring its new home, it was also fascinating to hear the parents calling out in a duet of unison calls.  I become desperate to “imprint” their song into my memory bank._DSC8190Of course, all of this louding calling out was puzzling little Uno and I don’t think he knew what to make of it.  (Note:  I have no idea if Uno is a male or female, but I will call it a “he” for now)._DSC8206Bugs … It’s What’s For Dinner.  🙂  The pair took turns finding some tasty morsels to share with Uno.  It wasn’t an easy feat to feed him either as he would repeatedly refuse or drop it.  The parents would have to mash it up a bit more and offer it to him numerous times before it finally ate it._DSC8215We tried to get down low as we photographed this little cutie.  It was quite alert to its surroundings and stayed pretty close to mom and dad._DSC7960It was a virtual smorgasbord of bugs too, which we could quickly see Uno had a few favorites._DSC8084All of this feeding and catching up made poor Uno tired … sometimes a nap ensued, while other times Uno just gave in to a good stretch of its still developing wings._DSC7977It’s so amazing the body size to foot size ratio of these guys.  Often those big feet would get tangled up in the grasses and brush and over Uno would go.  LOL_DSC8025Thank goodness I brought along 2 camera bodies because sometimes they got really close to us.  They really didn’t seem to mind us, as we sat still for the most part, though sometimes we got up, giving them their freedom to roam wherever they pleased._DSC8441Is this just not the cutest face ever?_DSC8395As if that sweet face wasn’t enough, sometimes Uno would wander into the pretty wildflowers in the area and really offer a great shot._DSC8293Now where in the world is this guy going?  When they get up their energy and run, I can’t contain myself and begin to laugh, making shooting a bit difficult._DSC8330Oh, it’s that big, juicy worm, which mom or dad dropped in front of Uno._DSC8454As you can see, those worms were definitely a hit!_DSC8471Yes, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a self-proclaimed “CRANIAC”.  How could anyone not love them?  I mean, they were even blessed with that red heart, so identifiable, on the top of their heads.  🙂_DSC7896Being the only child, I would expect that Uno would grow up quickly.  I sure hope that Uno grows up to be a big beautiful crane … and I can only hope to be reunited one day with him, perhaps photographing its own offspring._DSC7999Well, got to go …. thanks for the memories Uno!_DSC8144

Next Up:  More photography and stories in the area between Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP.

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

A Burrowing Owl Encore!

It’s been some time since the last burrowing owl post and there’s so many images from 2015, so I though that I would share a few more and give some final thoughts on them as well.

I just love it when they are perched on something which offers me an interesting background, especially when I can produce a bokeh which adds to the shot.  The blue sky is perfect when filtered through the leaves of a nearby tree.

20150520-DSC_4181

Though these are siblings, they have very different eye colors.  Both are quite beautiful.  the yellow ones are piercing when the sunlight casts itself on them just so, but the brownish yellow are so different that I find it hard to look away.  Either way, I love them both!

20150526-DSC_2504

Yes, they sure love to launch themselves into flight, as well as jumping around quite a bit.  I just LOVE when they focus on their landings … eyes on the prize and talons out ready for the grab.

20150520-DSC_4436

They run from burrow to burrow when they have more than one entrance to home.

20150520-DSC_4378 20150526-DSC_2473 20150526-DSC_2474

To me, the main thing that I want the owls to do while I’m photographing them is to act natural and do the things that owls do.  I don’t want them to be preoccupied by my presence.  I prefer to see the eyes, even if just caught through the feathers of its wings.

20150526-DSC_2470

A favorite activity for these owls was the “attack” and wrestling of each other … reminded me of a worldwide wrestling event.  LOL

20150526-DSC_2469 20150526-DSC_2476

These burrowing owls are very social with each other and they “kiss”, groom, and “canoodle” each other quite often.  Looks so sweet.  🙂

20150526-DSC_2495

Of course, they shed their feathers on occasion, which totally becomes a favorite “toy” to play with.

20150520-DSC_4294

So is flying around the burrow, landing on perches, etc.  This year was unusual because in years past, I had seen the owls hunting a bit and feeding, but I saw none of that this year.  Of course, they were well fed and would expel their pellets (remnants of their undigested material) quite frequently.  🙂

20150520-DSC_4249

In this particular burrow, sometimes the perch became quite crowded!

20150526-DSC_2348

These owls are pretty much busy all day, and they get tired just like we do.  Like some people, some could almost fall asleep anywhere!  LOL

20150519-DSC_1992

Can’t wait to see what 2016 holds in regards to photographing the owls of south Florida!  I hope that you enjoyed them as much as I did.  🙂

Next Up:  Let’s go back to ALASKA!!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Guaranteed to Make You Smile!

Yes, it’s time for more burrowing owls!  Being that I spend so much time with them … and they never fail to bring a smile to my face … I had to get in another blog post with them as the stars.  🙂

20150519-DSC_1478

These little ones are simply the most expressive owls that you can imagine.  Those piercing yellow eyes and that stare that goes on and on.  As far as a staring contest, they always win hands down.

20150519-DSC_1913

Very curious about the world around them, they cautiously make their way on occasions outside the confines of their roped off boundary to their burrow.  Being a protected species, it’s easy to find these burrows, as generally they are roped off for identification.  These particular ones are in a very active county park, so it’s important to know where they are … especially when the grounds keeper begins to mow their area!

20150519-DSC_1437

This is how they look when they hear the sound of the mower coming their way … LOL … of course, I’m just kidding about that.

20150519-DSC_1443

So social is their nature that they often try to perch on the same stake, rope, perch, or branch.

20150519-DSC_1413

My favorite feature of the young ones is all of that wispy downy feathers around their “petticoat” area.  LOL.  That, and the color of their bellies … reminds me of Kahlua!

20150519-DSC_1396

This one was stalking something, but from our vantage point, we couldn’t see what it was at first.

20150519-DSC_1537

Then we saw it trying to right itself – one of its burrow mates had been in that submissive position near the entrance of the burrow.

20150519-DSC_1531

Learning new things all of the time, like how to navigate a new branch.  I can’t help but think of tightrope walkers when I see them do this.

20150519-DSC_1649

Old Twinkle Toes this one is as it flaps its wings and begins to fly off of its perch.  As you can see, the entire time it’s so concentrating on the task at hand.  Like our own little babies, always learning something new and processing that information.

20150519-DSC_1748

Up …. and … down

20150519-DSC_1658 20150519-DSC_1684

It also enjoys a good game of Limbo too.

20150519-DSC_1582

When all else fails, there’s always the old biting on one of its brothers or sisters.

20150519-DSC_1790

As I think back at all of the good times I’ve shared while observing the owls I can’t help but smile all over again.  🙂

20150519-DSC_1797

Next up:  Continuing on to Salt Lake City and Park City for the cycling adventure!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photogaphy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Owls of the Burrow

Hello again … returning to the burrowing owls … my feathered friends of the spring season which I always look forward to capturing images of each year.

20150513-DSC_4077

Exploration of the world around them is always fascinating to watch when I visit them.  They encounter flowers, small crawling insects, many flying bees and dragonflies, a bit of trash that found its way towards the burrow, and the attention of onlookers.

20150513-DSC_4144

Their curiosity is just through the roof … much like our own young, they find everything and anything, and MUST pick it up to investigate it further.  🙂

20150513-DSC_4138 20150513-DSC_4152

Not all burrowing owls have those bright yellow eyes that they are so famous for.  This particular burrow last year, with the same parents, produced several with yellow eyes and several with very dark eyes.  Those parents this year had primarily lighter eyed owlets, with the color below being one of the darker ones.

20150519-DSC_1297

Life around the burrow is quite an active one, especially when the young ones are still learning to navigate themselves in flight.  When they’re not flying overhead or low to the grasses, they often hop around in short burst jumps.

20150519-DSC_1329

They are so beautiful in flight, though most times it’s hard to get their faces not shrouded by their beautiful wings in flight.

20150519-DSC_1364

Oops, looks like this one has just spotted something flying overhead.

20150519-DSC_1341

How about a game of peekaboo?  They just have endless things to do and an endless array of expressions.  🙂

20150513-DSC_4079

Of course, there’s always time for a little bit of mutual grooming and “kissing”.  They really seem to enjoy it.

20150513-DSC_4121 20150513-DSC_4114

Before long, they’re flying about again.  I absolutely adore the way that they land with those talons ready for the grab.  Look at that concentration on its face as well.

20150519-DSC_1365

This one must have been studying some magic, as it seems to be levitating above the branch while perched with it sibling.  LOL

20150519-DSC_1242

A topside view of the owl in flight shows off its beautiful markings in its feathers, wingspan, and beautiful face.  Gosh, I love those birds!

20150519-DSC_1324

Then it’s back to those inquisitive stares.

20150513-DSC_4141 20150519-DSC_1389

All fluffed up are you?  Well, if you haven’t spent some time with burrowing owls yet, be sure to make it a plan to do so.  You’ll be glad that you did!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

It’s That Time Again …. !

One of the things that I love most living in south Florida is our availability of burrowing owls to photograph.  They are year-round residents, but my favorite time of year is in the spring of course.  That’s when the baby owlets begin to emerge out of their burrows for the first time.  🙂

20150429-DSC_8778

They are hysterical to observe as they very timidly peek outside at the world around them. They are so curious at just about everything going on “above ground”, for the first few weeks they were nurtured within the protection of the underground burrow … safe from the predators and the elements.  When first introduced to their new life outside, they tend to stay huddled together.

20150429-DSC_8829

Just how cute are they?  This is the stage that I affectionately refer to as the “hair plug stage”  (sorry guys).  LOL

20150429-DSC_8841

While the babies remain close to the burrow, the dad usually ventures out to hunt for food in the early morning or late evening.  You can tell the adult by the speckled pattern on the underside, while the babies possess that mocha colored downy look.

20150512-DSC_3836

While the young ones stand vigil at the entrance to the burrow, already with a keen eye for what’s going on in their surroundings.  But as with anything else, there’s always one that gets easily distracted.

20150513-DSC_3867

The adults are extremely protective of their young and will observe the overhead skies for any signs of a potential threat or predator.  One quick bark from either mom or dad and those owlets retreat in almost a blink of an eye.  Very early on too, they learn to begin to scan the skies themselves.

20150513-DSC_3886

In south Florida, the majority of the threats come from red-shouldered hawks, though a handful of red-tailed hawks also circle overhead looking for a meal.

20150512-DSC_3847

These owls are also quite expressive and have a never-ending array of “looks”.                   There’s the surprised look ….

20150513-DSC_3892

The caught in the act look ….

20150513-DSC_3916

Everyone’s favorite though is always the curiosity look, with the head cocked over to one side, sometimes even almost totally upside down.  LOL

20150513-DSC_3941

After not too much time they learn to fly, which is absolutely by far my favorite time.  You can just see their minds at work, trying to calculate that perfect plan for flight.  Usually they start off perfecting the lowest perch-able item around, most often the stake that usually is present to identify the burrow.

20150513-DSC_3963

Sometimes there’s a nearby perch which can be used as their next step.  I just love how they always stop and size up their next step.  On a side note, look at those wonderful downy under feathers, or what I call, the “petticoat”.  So adorable.

20150513-DSC_3965

No test though is more fun to watch as the rope landing.  Of course, that rope is not the most secured nor stable landing, so when they land and begin to pull in their wings, they wobble … back & forth, over and over.  Eventually they perfect that balancing act.

20150513-DSC_4007

Then there’s playtime … so entertaining.  Again, you can watch the “attack scheming” in action play out.  Usually one plays a more dominant role, while the other performs a more submissive behavior.

20150513-DSC_4036

Eventually they break it up, but not before the fun watching the one on its back squirm around trying to right itself again.

20150513-DSC_4041

Yes, the burrowing owls are a real “hoot” to photograph.  So take a bow for your audience young owl, but don’t think that this is the end of my time with you.  The season is young and lots more visits loom ahead.

20150513-DSC_3954

Next up:  More burrowing owls

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

2012 Review: PART 2 – Florida

Of course, Everglades NP is much more than crocs … the weekends were filled with many different photo opps, featuring a wide variety of many different species of migrating birds.  I know that if I ever left south Florida, the Everglades would be sorely missed.  Never the same place on any given time – always  evolving and changing.  Of course, no trip to the Everglades is ever complete without a side trip to Roberts for a strawberry-key lime milkshake – at least not if I make the trip down there with Tom!

_DSC7307-3_DSC7656-3_DSC9954-3_DSC7464-3

Burrowing owls were also a big focus for us this year, visiting them at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City quite often.  They’re just so gosh darned cute!  In 2012, I really felt that I got to know the various families of owls, as we watched their young grow up, literally through our lenses.  I have to admit, it was a bit sad when they were all grown up and finally “flew the coop” – or should I say “flew the burrow”.

Our very first sighting of the little ones

Our very first sighting of the little ones

Testing out its wings and balance

Testing out its wings and balance

Some of the gang showing off in the nearby tree

Some of the gang showing off in the nearby tree

Can’t wait until the burrowing owl families are back in full swing!

Stay tuned for 2012 Review: Part 3 & Part 4