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Burrowing Owl Chicks Will Steal Your Heart (and maybe your camera)

American Prairie Reserve is home to hundreds of species of birds, including the charismatic burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) that makes its seasonal home in the Reserve’s growing prairie dog towns. Weighing in at 5 ounces and only 9 inches tall, adult burrowing owls are surprising attention-grabbers owing to their unique ground-dwelling lifestyle, striking yellow eyes and bob-and-weave behavior.

Montana-based wildlife photographers Jaime and Lisa Johnson visited the Reserve twice this summer to observe the owls. Their second trip was perfectly timed to witness the emergence of chicks from their burrows, which typically occurs a few weeks after hatching underground. As the chicks grow older and bolder, they begin to venture further from the burrow.

Using a GoPro camera, the Johnsons captured a glimpse of family life in the Reserve’s Sun Prairie region. The footage provides an up-close look at the curious nature of the owls – and a warning to the rest of us. Watch out for your cameras! Kids will be kids.

American Prairie Reserve (APR) is assembling a world class wildlife reserve in northern Montana, with the goal of one day creating a seamless 3.5 million acre grassland ecosystem. APR’s President Sean Gerrity is a National Geographic Fellow. Learn more about the Reserve, including progress to date and biodiversity, on the Reserve’s website.