Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing owl (Speotyto cunicularia) is a small owl that is of the typical owl family. It has a round, light brown facial disc. Its head, back and upper wings are light brown and the breast and belly are off-white or cream colored and often have darker barring. They have a distinct white stripe outlining their chins. Males are often lighter in color than the females. This owl sometimes preens its parents or preens its nest mates.

This owl is active in the daylight, usually at dusk and dawn. It can often be found perched standing on one foot on a mound of dirt or on a fence post where it watches for prey. Their prey includes beetles and grasshoppers, small mammals like mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels, reptiles, birds and amphibians. It nests underground in abandoned burrows of mammals in open, dry grasslands, desert habitats that have burrowing animals and agricultural lands. In March or April they will lay between 6 and 9 eggs, incubated by the female. The male will take care of nestlings later on in development.

These owls are found in the western United States in all states west of the Mississippi Valley, in Florida, Mexico, Central America and largely in South America. Their breeding location is western United States, their permanent locations are in Mexico, Central America and South America , and their wintering location is east of Texas into Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. They are ground-dwelling birds, so their nests are at risk of invasion from outside predators. This species of owl is slowly declining from the prairies, and is listed as endangered and threatened. Their predators include domestic cats and dogs, larger owls, hawks, skunks, ferrets, armadillos and snakes. Sometimes, while foraging across roads they are killed by vehicles. Population declines of this species are recently due to habitat loss and alteration and pesticides used on agricultural land.