Photographer Megan Lorenz started out wanting to take portraits of Rover, Spot, and any other family pet. But there was one problem: She hated staying indoors all day. So she took her passion outside.
Four years later, she’s an avid nature photographer who’s learned that shooting wildlife and birds often requires some serious patience. We asked Lorenz about her picture of a burrowing owl (left) that she posted to Audubon magazine’s Flickr group.
Species name: Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia floridana)
Picture location: Cape Coral, Florida
Time of year: March/April
Shutter speed: 1/1600th
Lens: Canon 500mm and 1.4 Extender; focal length 700mm
Camera: Canon 1D4
How long did it take you to get this image?
That depends on how you look at it. I've spent more than 100 hours watching burrowing owls in Florida and have become accustomed to their behaviours and traits. I mapped out a large number of the burrows and know the best times and locations for light, when to visit if I want to see them hunt, see the babies emerge from their burrows or see the owlets learn how to fly. On this day, I had been at the burrow for about three hours when this male landed close to me and provided the perfect photo opportunity.
What were the circumstances surrounding it?
This photo was taken late morning as he made a short flight from the burrow, caught the frog and ate his portion before flying back to the burrow to present his mate with the legs. The male will make a unique call to get the female to come out of the burrow and take the food.
Unlike many other owls, burrowing owls do not usually swallow their prey whole but they do utilize all of the prey and never leave anything to waste. They may not eat all of their catch at once.
What do you like about this shot?
I love the dangling legs in this photo but I almost feel guilty about that because I love frogs too!
What might you change about it?
When he landed, I would have loved to change my location slightly to get better light on the owl and catch-lights in the eyes. But I didn't want to disturb him so I stayed put. It's more important to me that I'm not disturbing the owls even if that means missing the perfect shot.
Do you consider yourself a bird person?
I never used to be. I was actually scared of birds because I was once bitten by a macaw and know how much damage their beaks can do. That all changed for me once I started with photography and spent so much time watching different species of birds. I could talk about why I love birds all day but when it comes to the burrowing owls, I love their huge expressive eyes, their funny poses and stretches, the amazing parenting skills they possess, and their willingness to allow us to observe and enjoy them. When I'm out photographing birds, I'm always amazed at the new things that I see and learn.