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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

The Airport’s Owls

June 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

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An airport might not seem like the most natural place for Burrowing Owls to live. But the best place to find them in Colorado is 40 miles east of my apartment in Boulder at Denver International Airport. These owls actually live within the city limits of Denver at the north edge of Denver International Airport, which in land area is the biggest American airport and second biggest in the world.

I haven’t seen any of them on the runways in competition with some of the biggest things that fly. The Burrowing Owls much prefer to live in the burrows that prairie dogs dug for themselves and reluctantly share with these little birds.

Sharon and I set off to find them a few days ago. Someone had posted on the Colorado Birds List that he had seen Burrowing Owls at two locations near the airport. We found them there, but in the distance.

So we moved on to where we had seen them exactly two years ago. We found a family of several owls and owlets there in one burrow close to a dirt road near the north end of one of the airport’s longest runways.

Most of the Family

Most of the Family

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Hiding Behind Mama?

Hiding Behind Mama?

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Daddy Brings Home the Bacon

Daddy Brings Home the Bacon

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Breakfast!

Breakfast!

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Hovering over Prey

Hovering over Prey

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Studying Below

Studying Below

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Practicing How to Look Sideways

Practicing How to Look Sideways

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These last three shots are my favorites. These are behaviors that I had never seen before. I really liked it that one of the owls hovered right in front of me. I didn’t even know that owls hover, until I read in the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America that burrowing owls “often hover like a kestrel.”

The final shot makes me laugh. I knew that owls can’t move their eyes, so they have to move their head instead. They can move their heads 270° from side to side, according to Owls Aren’t Wise and Bats Aren’t Blind. But nothing I read about owls ever told me that they move their necks vertically. This little guy is quite an acrobat.

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Posted in: Photography

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jessica // Jun 28, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Love the expressions and different stages of movement you have captured in these photos! Thanks for the chuckle too.

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