Burrowing Owl (Bird-a-day)


November 9, 2008A Bird A DayNo comments

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

The Burrowing Owl is the Bird-of-the-day today! It is technically known as the Athene cunicularia. It gets its name for its burrowing practices, it lives in underground burrows rather than in trees. It can be found in grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas, deserts or any other dry, open area with low vegetation. They nest and roost in burrows, such as those excavated by prairie dogs. Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are often active during the day, although they tend to avoid the mid-day heat. Most hunting is still done from dusk until dawn, when their owl apomorphies are most advantageous.1

They typical Burrowing Owl lives to be at least 9 years old and eat mostly insects, small rodents, small vertebrates and invertebrates of all kinds but they will also eat fruits and seeds from time-to-time. They are monogamous like most birds and mate for life.

The rest of this article is about the threat status — directly posted from Wikipedia.com:

The burrowing owl is endangered in Canada, threatened in Mexico, and a species of special concern in Florida and most of the western USA. It is common and widespread in open regions of many Neotropical countries, where they sometimes even inhabit fields and parks in cities. In regions bordering the Amazon Rainforest they are spreading with deforestation. It is therefore listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Burrowing owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They are also included in CITES Appendix II.

The major reasons for declining populations in North America are control programs for prairie dogs and loss of habitat, although burrowing owls readily inhabit some anthropogenic landscapes, such as airport grasslands or golf courses. Genetic analysis of the two North American subspecies indicates that inbreeding is not a problem within those populations.

Where the presence of Burrowing Owls conflicts with development interests, a passive relocation technique has been applied successfully: rather than capturing the birds and transporting them to a new site (which may be stressful and prone to failure), the owls are half-coerced half-enticed to move on their own accord. The preparations need to start several months prior to the anticipated disturbance with observing the owl colony and noting especially their local movements and site preferences. After choosing a location nearby that has suitable ground and provides good Burrowing Owl breeding habitat, this new site is enhanced by adding burrows, perches, etc. Once the owls have accustomed to the changes and are found to be interested in the location – if any possible, this should be at the onset of spring, before the breeding season starts – they are hindered to enter the old burrows. A simple one-way trapdoor design has been described that is placed over the burrow for this purpose. If everything has been correctly prepared, the owl colony will move over to the new site in the course of a few nights at most. It will need to be monitored occasionally for the following months or until the major human construction nearby has ended.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrowing_Owl []

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