Friday, February 12, 2010

Photos of the Day

Another favorite subject of mine to photograph are owls. Todays photos are Burrowing Owls -  Athene cunicularia. These owls are a small ground-dwelling Owls 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. They moult into an adult-like plumage during their first summer. Burrowing Owls are comparatively easy to see because they are often active in daylight.They are surprisingly bold and approachable.  They average 8.5 to 11 inches in height, and can have a wing span from 50-60 inches. Most weigh in at 6-8 ounces. Burrowing Owls are present in North America, and breed across the grassland regions of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They occur in all states west of the Mississippi Valley, breed south through the western and mid-western States. A separate subspecies is found in Florida and the Carribean Islands. They extend south into Mexico, Central America and South America but populations have declined in many areas due to human-caused habitat loss or alteration. 

I took these photos while I was down in southwest Florida  on a photography trip. There is a sizeable nesting colony around the Cape Coral City Library. They have roped off many of the open grass lots around the area where they have burrows. They city has provided man made perches for them and installed them near their burrows for them to perch on. At the time I was there photographing in March of 2009, Florida was under drought conditions and the vegetation was dried out and dead all around the area. This can be observed in the first photo with the two perched together. So to try and create some better backgrounds I had to get creative. The one on the left I actually layed down flat on my back and shot at an upward angle using a 500mm lens to use the blue sky for the background. The one on the right was created by finding a large green bush in a residental yard about a block away. I just lined it up and used it as the background to get the nice soft greens I was looking for. That one was shot kneeling down using a 400mm lens.    

This last shot below was my favorite from that session. This owl was really watching my every move as I tried to get something unique from just the sitting poses. He had been standing one one leg which is normal for them. He slowly lowered his left leg to stretch it out. I caught this pose and it has become one of my favorite photographs. If you want to learn more about owls, the single best resource I have found on the internet is the Owl Pages. I will provide a direct link to that site. Have a great weekend and I will be back next week with something new.                  

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