Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Owls in the Fox House

After the kit fox family flew the coop, a male burrowing owl moved in.

burrowing owls 1
Male burrowing owl at recently vacated kit fox natal den

He even brought some kills back to the camera to show off his hunting prowess.

burrowing owls 2

burrowing owls 3

burrowing owls 4

And, errr, eating prowess.

burrowing owls 5
Burrowing owl chowing down on a small rodent

burrowing owls 6

And then a female joined the fun.

burrowing owls 7
Male (left) and female (right) burrowing owls at kit fox den

And by their behavior (already ignoring each other), they were likely starting a family of their own in the recently vacated kit fox natal den.

He'd bring her rodent presents...

burrowing owls 8
"Hey baby - daddy has a tasty juvie Peromyscus for you..."

They'd rumba-sumba...

burrowing owls 9
Checking her back for, um... yah... right...

He'd regurgitate food for her on-demand...

burrowing owls 10

burrowing owls 11
Checking to see if any of his friends are watching?

burrowing owls 12

burrowing owls 13

burrowing owls 14

(btw - I'm glad us humans departed from this behavior)

And he defended her honor from the local thugs - ravens.

burrowing owls 15

burrowing owls 16
"Hey! Your protection payments are overdue!"

burrowing owls 17
"Damn oversize crows..."

burrowing owls 18

burrowing owls 19
"Grumble, grumble..."

burrowing owls 20

burrowing owls 21
"What's all the fuss? Ravens again?"

burrowing owls 22
"Don't worry about them honey - here, have a snack"

Unfortunately the cam trap didn't catch any photos of the owlets. It shot out - taking thousands of photos in just a couple of weeks, instead of months.

Looking at the photos in sequence shows why - the cam trap became loose on its mount/post, allowing it to wiggle in the Carrizo winds, simulating scene changes and causing false triggers.

However, looking only at the cam trap POV, the reason for the loosening isn't at all obvious. No big animal bumped it. Was it the relentless wind itself? Or the nut at the end of the wrench (aka, me)?

No, when I picked up the cam, the scene of the crime told the tale.

The culprit's "fingerprints" were plain to see.

burrowing owls 23
Do camera traps bleed in white?

burrowing owls 24

Note to self: next time, point a cam trap at the cam trap. And one at that cam too. And secure them all really, really well.



  1. The owls may have chosen that burrow to claim because there was such a good perch next to it! Awesome shots.

    1. Thanks SS. Now I just need to train them to re-tighten the wingnut...

    2. I read somewhere that vulture splat is sanitary. I tried to comfort myself with that thought while I was cleaning of a camera near a kill. I was never able to confirm. So what time of year are the burrowing owls breeding in the Carrizo?

    3. Perhaps uric acid is anti-bacterial. Seems plausible. These photos are from late May.

  2. Hahahaha. That's some awesome white wash you got on the camera. I wonder if Owl crap would act like a lure to any other animals in the area. Great photos.

    Outside of who was on top, how were you able to tell which was the male and which was the female?

    1. The male is bigger and his beard and white marks much more obvious/displayed. Most of the photos captured by the cam are of him, even once the female joined, since he stands guard and brings food, and she's mostly down in the burrow, likely on eggs.

  3. Love this story of the second hand burrow!


Please leave a comment, thought or question at any time.