Barney & Friends – An Update

A couple of years ago, I was alerted to a nesting pair of Barn Owls, not far from where I live. Being a rarity, I set up a time where I could visit the farm and photograph these endangered birds. Since this post originally published, I have fabricated a nesting box for the owls and have installed it in the main barn. I’ve been trying to keep in touch with the owners of the farm and so far, these owls are no longer being seen in the area. I’m hopeful that things will change and I will get an e-mail one of these days, inviting me back to photograph them again! Here is the original post:

Today, I’m going to share some recent images of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) family that resides nearby. On my first visit to the farm, I climbed the ladder to one of the grain bins and was able to see two young owls, along with one of the adults, inside the grain bin. Upon descending the ladder, I walked the short distance to a large barn, where I found two more young owls alongside the other parent. Not wanting to disturb the family as they were relocating the young to the barn, I left without making any images.

But late last week, I returned to the barn to check out the relocation status. It was early morning, about an hour after sunrise, when I entered the barn. It was unusually dark at this time of morning, so I needed to sit still for a couple of minutes to let my eyes acclimate to the darkness. Once my pupils began to open, I was ecstatic to see 5 heart-shaped faces looking at me! I then began taking some photos, although I questioned how well they would turn out in this dark environment. I didn’t stay very long as I didn’t want to frighten the new family of owls, so I left after only about 10 minutes. When I got home, I enthusiastically downloaded the images to my computer. As they downloaded, I was a bit disappointed in the quality of my images. I sat quietly a few moments, thinking about the process I used to capture the images and, more importantly, what I would do differently the next opportunity I had with the Barn Owls, making notes as I brainstormed.

A couple of days later, I returned to the barn. This time, using some of the information and ideas from my brainstorming session after the previous shoot at the barn, I was able to get some much improved images. Here are a few of my favorites:

When I first entered the barn, this adult Barn Owl flew from one end of the barn to the other end, where it perched against the wall. I’m guessing he was likely trying to call my attention to him, so I wouldn’t see the young owls:

An adult Barn Owl sitting in barn (James A. Braswell)

This next image shows one of the adult Barn Owls, sitting on a rafter at the top of the barn, just above two young owls:

Adult Barn Owl

In the next image, you will see one of the young owls, sitting against the barn wall. Looks like he’s trying to catch 20 winks!:

A young Barn Owl napping

In this next image, you will see two young owls, clutched to a chain that was hanging from the top of the barn. And above these two is the second adult Barn Owl:

Barn Owls

Moving just a tad, here is another shot of the two young owls and adult:

Barn Owls

Wonderful birds … hope they can make a comeback!

Photo Equipment Used:

  • Canon 1D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF500mm, f/4 IS lens (mounted on tripod)
  • Gitzo G1258LVL tripod (6x carbon fiber), with Wemberley gimbal head (Series 1)
  • ISO 6400 (necessary since this was a closed barn, with only a small door open to allow light in) – Noise Ninja used to reduce the amount of noise/grain, caused by the high ISO usage
  • Aperture f/6.3
  • Shutter 1/30 sec.



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