One thing most owls are good at is being imperceptible. This little owl is even better than many owls. The Burrowing Owl is wide-spread across America however, few people have noticed one. Or when we did get a glimpse, we’re not quite sure of what we had seen.
Around 1782 in Chili was the first time this little owl was documented. This owl is only about ten inches high with a wing span of 1 1/2 – two feet. It is easy to see how they can be over looked so frequently, they are a bit un-owl like in appearance and behavior. Their colour is that of aged wood so it’s tough to tell where the branch ceases and the owl starts.
Burrowing Owls are one of the few that may be active throughout the day. Their favorite time is still dawn or dusk for their searching! But, due to their size they prefer to be done feeding by the time the larger”owl eating” predators come out later at night. As they can see in the daylight too, if the day feed did not go very well they have the option of hunting longer in the morning. Due to the most Burrowing Owl sightings are throughout the day. If you’ve Prairie Dogs, Gophers, Voles, grasshoppers, or mice chances are pretty good you have this owl. His favourite habitat is grass lands but he will be flexible if his food source is available. Additionally they can perch in pine trees, or on the fence on your suburb. He prefers to live in old Prairie Dog or Gopher holes however he can do some pretty good digging if needed, to have that just perfect hole. If your in the top countries closer to Canada, this owl is migratory, the lower half of the US. He remains year around. It just depends on the weather. (OK, Bad pun!)
And yes, this owl has it’s nest in dens in the ground. The mom and dad will both feed the young. At approximately 14 days old they could be sitting on top of the mound, outside the den entrance. By two months they’ll be chasing insects around on their own for dinner. If there’s space the Burrowing Owl may stay near his family unit if there are sufficient burrows and food.
The Gopher Owl can live up to ten years . Other owls, hawks, badgers, skunks, cars, dogs and cats all try to shorten that life span in the wild. Unfortunately in Colorado the Burrowing Owl is listed as”State Threatened” that is only a breath away from compromised. Most of the states that have the Prairie Dog Owl, have it listed either protected or endangered. But which do you save , the owl or its food source which is a nuisance to most of us? Perhaps we should look a bit closer at the food chain.