This smooth burrowing owl is popping up just to wink at you ;)
10 Facts About Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)!
Burrowing owls will mostly take over burrows already created by ground squirrels, badgers, foxes, and other animals that dig holes in the ground. Did you know that they can even be found occupying piles of rubbish?
They love open fields with low vegetation (like sparse shrublands). It makes it easier for them to hunt for their meals. In fact, burrowing owls will usually only hunt for food with in a one mile radius.
While hunting, burrowing owls will usually wait upon a perch until they find their kill, then swoop down to fetch their meal!
A burrowing owls diet will normally contain insects, small rodents, small birds, and even amphibians.
Burrowing owls tend to return to their same burrows every year.
Other than a slight difference in size, behavior, and color there is really no way to tell the difference between a male and female burrowing owl without DNA testing.
Some of the main threats for burrowing owls are urbanization and eradication of ground squirrels (loss of burrows).
Nesting season begins in late March or early April. Burrowing owls will also nest up to 14 egg and occasionally a male will even have two mates!
The chicks will hang around the burrows for up to three months and even though there may be a large number of eggs, usually only four to five chicks will survive.
The life span for a burrowing owl is usually about ten years.
Photos by Robert Guy
Unfortunately, there are some who do not value living things as they should and have harmed burrowing owls by destroying their habitat.
In the case of the City of San Diego, burrowing owl burrows at Brown Field (an small airport slated for expansion) were allegedly filled with liquid toxins, then filled in with gravel. A report was filed on 12/17/12 by the Coalition for a Safe Environment describes the incident.
We have filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego concerning their failure in their airport expansion plans to adequately compensate for the loss of owl habitat and the destruction of rare vernal pools the development will cause.
For more information about the burrowing owls, please read this petition filed in 2003 with the California Fish and Game Commission to make the burrowing an endangered species in California (which did not happen).
You may also read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service status report on the western burrowing owl.
Breeding distribution of the Burrowing Owl in the United States and southern Canada, based on Breeding Bird Survey data, 1985-1991. Scale represents average number of individuals detected per route per year. Map from Price, J., S. Droege, and A. Price. 1995. The summer atlas of North American birds.