As many of you know, I spend many hours looking for new animals to photograph on my trips. My recent trip to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota was no different.

One thing you may not know is when I’ve seen a new animal, I purchase a stuffed animal from the park’s visitor center.  It adds to the fun and besides, the money goes toward the park, which is always a good thing.

While photographing one of the prairie dog towns in the Badlands, I noticed a bird flying around from spot to spot. I zoomed in, took a photo and when I looked at the results, realized it was an owl!

A Burrowing Owl!

I’m sure these owls had been right in front of me on previous visits to the park, but as luck would have it, I discovered them on this trip.

Burrowing Owls live underground in abandoned prairie dog burrows and they are the only owls that are active during the day. And, best of all, they get along with the prairie dogs, who take mainstage to park visitors, so the Burrowing Owls tend to go unnoticed.

Burrowing Owl landing.

Two Burrowing Owls looking for a meal. In the foreground is a prairie dog hole.

Me after a day of hiking in the sun and taking photographs with the new addition to my stuffed animal crew -- Bernard the Burrowing Owl.