The Burrowing OwlThe Burrowing Owl’s habitat is flat, open areas with soft soil, grass, and little vegetation. They can also be found along banks of irrigation canals.
Burrowing owls live in loose colonies and are active both day and night, with most of their activity being at dusk and dawn. These owls hunt using three techniques: coming down on their prey from perches, hovering over open areas, or by running to chase down their food. Once the owls reach their prey, they use their fast-reacting talons to snatch up their meals, which mostly consist of large invertebrates, small mammals, and other birds.
During nesting season, Burrowing Owls nest in burrows which have been made, used and abandoned by other animals. They can sometimes also be found nesting in drainage pipes or other artificial burrows. The owls form monogamous relationships during nesting season. While the female incubates 7 to 10 eggs for 28 to 30 days, the male brings her food. After the eggs have hatched, the female will brood for one to two weeks while the male continues to hunt and bring all the meals. The young owls will leave the nest at about six weeks and will learn to hunt on their own at around seven to eight weeks. Although the owls spend nesting season in one place, they are migratory birds and often spend the winter in southern Mexico and Central America.
The Burrowing Owl’s main threat is the loss of nesting burrows. With agriculture and construction projects taking over land, these owls are left with fewer and fewer burrows in which they can nest and re-populate.
Note: For a great story about Burrowing Owls in Florida and a student’s fight to save their native habitat, read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.