Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 09/01/2014

Photo taken on August 28, 2014

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Waterton Lakes trip
NE of Waterton
side/front view
SE of Calgary
Burrowing Owl
Athene cunicularia
on the ground
bird of prey
in the grasses

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Hiding in the grasses

Hiding in the grasses
There are now 36 images in my Burrowing Owl album - this photo shows the first and only Burrowing Owl that I have ever been fortunate enough to see in the wild. To say that it was a thrill is an understatement! These owls are tiny and so difficult to see, especially when they are down in the grasses. They are a true delight when or if they are seen on a fence post, so that the whole of the bird can be seen, not just a bright yellow eye peering out between the blades of grass. The wind was blowing and you had to try and time it so that the face was clear for a brief second. This must be one of the very few photos that does not have blades of grass cutting across the eyes. We saw two different individuals, possibly three, and for a brief moment both were perched on distant fence posts at the same time. Most of the time, though, they were mainly hidden in the grass, so my photos tend to be of "eyes". Such a great pity that this is an endangered species!

Without the help of two friends (Ron and Joyce) who helped us know where we might find these birds, and friends Cathy and Terry who invited me to go with them on a wonderful three-day trip to Waterton Lakes National Park, I would never have had this amazing sighting. For years, I had longed to see a wild Burrowing Owl, but never thought it would actually happen! Same for Cathy and Terry, so all three of us are SO grateful for the help we received! I'm still on a natural high and I know I will be for some time yet : )

"As a result of its ENDANGERED Species status in 1995, it has the focus of a variety of conservation efforts. Operation Burrowing Owl and other projects involving habitat preservation with landowners have been created. Populations are monitored by Fish and Wildlife departments. They have been reintroduced into the British Columbia interior, where it was extirpated. Outlook would improve if larger areas of habitat were preserved and harmful pesticides were banned in all areas of their range. Numbers could increase if an increased tolerance to burrowing mammals develops (i.e. badgers) – provides homes for the Burrowing Owl. Outlook: perilous." From