The owls nest in holes rather than in trees, and are active during the day

With coyotes lurking, stray dogs sniffing and raptors soaring above, you could forgive these wide-eyed burrowing owls for looking slightly nervous.

Using a camera hidden in a traffic cone photographer Mac Stone captured the magnificent birds, which nest in underground holes rather than in trees, in 20 attempts over six months.

The charming results show the wise creatures curiously gazing out over the grassland from their tunnelled habitat in Southern Florida.

Mr Stone said: 'Photographing owls is usually difficult, as they have wide territorial ranges, are primarily nocturnal and they nest high in tree cavities.

'Burrowing owls, however, are diurnal and do most of their hunting and flying around a small open area.

'Since their burrows are fixed, it's easy to predict where they'll be a week from now or even five minutes from now.

'They prefer expansive grasslands where they can easily prey on insects and small vertebrates. But, like most habitat-specific animals, their survival is greatly determined by the profitability of their landscapes.

'Dry, flat grasslands are valuable commodities in South Florida for agricultural use, golf courses, or new strip malls which leaves very little room for these ground dwellers.

'Now on the protected species list, their numbers are steady but they've had to make some serious adjustments to their living styles.

'It's incredibly rare to see images of these birds with their surroundings intact, usually because their backyards include golf carts or housing developments.

'You can imagine my excitement then when a co-worker pointed these owls out to me in Homestead, and all around them tall and lush grassland.

'My first instinct with wildlife photography is to grab the long lens because it's hard to get close to wild birds.

'I've seen so many photographs of burrowing owl portraits though, that I wanted something different, something new. I immediately started making plans to create another Gator Cam-type series of images.

'Birds are tricky. Unlike reptiles, they actually care if a foreign object is staring at them in the face.

'I found this out the hard way and my first attempts failed miserably. Worried that I would frighten the owls, I stopped the project and went back to the drawing board.

'I visited them several times, watching their behaviour and trying to figure out how I could position my camera without scaring them away.'

Mr Stone programmed the camera to take a photograph every five seconds over a five hour session.

He said: 'While the camera fired, I sat and waited until my memory card filled up.

'I quickly learned that burrowing owls move a lot more than alligators sunning on a log. I needed shorter intervals.

'I never knew what I would get, but I counted down the hours just the same. It felt like Christmas.

'It resulted in a unique glimpse into the lives of these almost cartoon-like birds.

'With their curious stares and shifting poses, they are so completely neurotic it's comical, but how could you blame them?

'With coyotes lurking, stray dogs sniffing and raptors soaring above, you've got to keep those bright hypnotic-yellow eyes peeled.'

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Responses to "The burrowing owls who live underground instead of in trees (Video)"

  1. Fili says:

    They are so cute !! Thank you for showing them to us...

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