Burrowing Owl

COMMON NAME: Burrowing Owl

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Athene cunicularia

TYPE: Bird

DIET: Carnivore


SIZE: 7.5-10 inches tall

WEIGHT: 4.5-9 oz.

Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Mexico. They are considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to be a Bird of Conservation Concern at the national level, in three USFWS regions, and in nine Bird Conservation Regions. 

This owl is found in dry, open areas with low vegetation where fossorial mammals (i.e. ground squirrels) congregate such as grasslands, deserts, farmlands, rangelands, golf courses, and vacant lots in urban areas. It was once distributed broadly throughout western North America, but has found itself declining in numbers throughout all historic ranges in the last 30 years. The burrowing owl also occurs in Florida, Central America, and most of South America.

Burrowing Owls primarily feed on insects and small mammals, but they will also eat reptiles and amphibians. Burrowing Owls hunt while walking or running across the ground and by swooping down from a perch or hover, and they will catch insects from the air.

The greatest threat to burrowing owls is habitat destruction and degradation caused primarily by land development and ground squirrel/prairie dog control measures. Despite their protected status, burrowing owls are often displaced and their burrows destroyed during the development process. The natural life span of the Burrowing Owl is 6-8 years. Burrowing owls are also at risk of predation from coyotes, birds of prey, and feral cats and dogs. Because of an increase in urban and suburban sprawl, hazards are now consisting of automobiles as well.

Information on the Burrowing Owl is courtesy of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network