November 2009 Bird Photo of the Month

Curious © Bob Barbour
Photo taken at 7:48 AM on 6/7/2009 at Canoe Creek Road, Burrowing Owl.
Tripod, Canon 50D  ISO 400, F 7.1  1/1600 sec

Our first Photo of the month was chosen for several reasons….the photograph has captured this Burrowing Owl in great detail with very clear focus,  only possible with the camera’s extended lens, as this bird would not allow humans very close. Its background is shadowy and not distracting from the central figure whose varied feather pattern is contrasted by the background’s plainness and color. The expression featured is watchful, alert for any movement like owls are.  Bird predators watch for prey to move, so it is a typical pose in that sense.  The Burrowing Owl’s identifying features of long legs and short tail are highlighted in the photo as one’s eye travels downward. The owl, caught facing towards the light but head turned toward the center, makes a more interesting pose and pleasing in the sense of balance and design of this photo. 

Although it is not obviously sitting in a “natural habitat of grass, rock or log”  perhaps it is evidence of its adapting to human changes where it is found on fence posts, golf courses, and airports. Sadly local populations are declining according to Sean Sexton. Burrowing owls were common on his ranch when he was growing up, but now he sees none.  This burrowing owl is sitting on a fence post… they find insects and small mammals to survive on.  Perhaps her burrow is in the ground nearby.

Juanita Baker,
Coordinator for the PIAS Photo of the Month

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