Today's post goes back a few years, to a trip I made to the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma. My trip there was primarily for wildflowers, bison and prairie dogs, along with the awesome landscapes of the Wichita Mountains.
I found all of those, but also was treated to a special guest appearance by some Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia). This was a life bird for me at the time and I was quite impressed with these magnificent little creatures and their awesome behaviors. I quickly nicknamed them the "Happy Owls" since they are such a joy to watch.
The Burrowing Owls have a small stature, about 9 inches, and have some very long, slender legs. They nest in underground burrows, usually in abandoned prairie dog burrows. And they are often quite active during the day, which makes for so much more fun watching/photographing them! During this trip, there were 5 or 6 Burrowing Owls and they stayed quite active as they flew about the prairie:
This owl was bringing back a small buffalo chip, presumably for nesting material:
Here he is, with the chip at his burrow:
This owl had captured an unlucky spider in the prairie:
This owl was casting quite a shadow against the large rock, as the sun crept lower on the horizon:
And this little owl flew back to the burrow with a tasty morsel:
You can see that lunch is still wiggling around as the owl stands above the open burrow:
... waiting for the Mrs Owl, who emerged from the burrow and accepted lunch from her mate:
After a few minutes, the female owl entered the burrow, with only the top of her head showing. The male then proceeded to preen his mate:
When the female worked her way to the top of the burrow, the male continued preening his sweetheart:
A few minutes later, the female re-entered the burrow. The male then took on an unusual posture, as if showing happiness he had pleased his mate:
The Burrowing Owl population is decreasing in many areas. But anyone lucky enough to find these cute little owls will have a "happy time" watching or photographing them!