This burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is enjoying a sprayer during the hot summer days in the Netherlands, 2018. Because of the Sun, a rainbow appears. This bird is staying in a natural park in Diessen, where it can run, dig, fly and rest free in the area without any enclosure. It can fly away if it wants to, and sometimes the bird does go out to explore. It always returns to the burrow and the area where it feels safe. Sadly, for the burrowing owls living in arid areas in e.g. Mexico and Florida USA this is not the case: habitat destruction made the population drop. This photo was nominated by the National Geographic Photo Contest 2018 of the Netherlands and selected as one of the best photographs of 2018 by the National Geographic Your Shot editors (USA). It is my most famous photograph and I love to share it with you! The grumpy expression of the bird is its natural face! And a rainbow in all its splendid colour surrounds the bird. These birds are day active, digging their burrow, and keeping an eye at the sky for predators. When a predatory bird like a hawk or sparrowhawk appears, they use a high pitching sound to warn the others in the area. They live in couples with offspring, though if another couple decides to move close (say 10 meters apart), they are able to tolerate each other. I have been studying their behaviour for 2.5 years now. They may be small, approximately 19-28 centimetres tall, but they are fierce. A small fluffy owl with a tough character!
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Clare Disano • Editor