Species Spotlight: Burrowing Owl
A favorite (if such a thing can be said) among Owl lovers is the pint sized Burrowing Owl. Unlike many species of Owl, the male and female Burrowing Owl are virtually identical in size. Standing at just up to ten inches tall, and weighing in at a mere six ounces, these Owls are quite small, but so full of character!
True to their name, these Owls often use the abandoned burrows of Ground Squirrels to roost and nest. Interestingly enough, Rattlesnakes sometimes do this as well, and when feeling threatened the Burrowing Owl will retreat into it’s burrow and make rattling and hissing sounds in an attempt to scare off the threat. The Owls also often spread the dung of other animals around the entrance to their burrow to attract dung beetles, which they’ll eat and feed to their young.
Burrowing Owls hunt various types of invertebrates such as grasshoppers and other bugs as well as small vertebrates such as mice and lizards. They’re most active at dawn and dusk, but are diurnal and will hunt regardless of light. They often store excess food in the case of lulls in food availability. In one burrow in Saskatchewan, researchers found more than 200 rodents!
These Owls can be found in the western United States, specifically from the lower western states all the way up into Canada during breeding season, and are year round residents in the lower portions of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Populations can also be found in most of Florida. Since these Owls are quite small, they may be difficult to locate easily. For the best chances, look in open, scrubby area with low growing vegetation. They may also utilize storm drains, culverts, and ditches to make nests. Knowing where to find Ground Squirrel colonies and Prairie Dog towns can also be helpful. You could also book a trip with us and see these beautiful Owls along with many other species in either Central or Southern Florida!
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