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Burrowing Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Burrowing Owl is the only owl in North and Central America that lives in a hole in the ground. It can often be found sitting at the entrance of its burrow in the daytime although it is mainly crepuscular or nocturnal. Here you will find photos, recordings and a brief field notes section to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. A more in depth write up and range map can be found in its natural history page (the Biology link). To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

Page Jump Links:
Photo Gallery
Additional photos
Audio Recordings
Field Notes
Biology

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Burrowing Owl Photo

98K

Burrowing Owl Photo

118K

Burrowing Owl Photo

141K

Salton Sea,
California
November, 2001

Carrizo Plain,
California
June, 2005
Salton Sea,
California
September, 2010

Burrowing Owl Photo

206K

Burrowing Owl Photo

78K

Burrowing Owl Photo

86K
San Joaquin Marsh
California
January, 2010
Salton Sea,
California
November, 2001
Salton Sea,
California
November, 2001

Additional Photos

Photo 1
119K

Photo 2
80K

Photo 3
107K

Photo 4
156K
Photo 5
111K

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
63K
Carrizo Plain,
California
October 1999

Male's primary and territorial defense song. Heard only near the burrow.

FIELD NOTES
Burrowing Owl - Athene cunicularia

 The Burrowing Owl is mainly diurnal although it may forage at all times of the day and night depending on prey availability. It can often be seen in the mid-day as it sits at or near the entrance to its burrow. It usually forages for insects in the day and small mammals in the evening so it may become largely nocturnal in the winter months when the insects are low. The burrows are generally vacated rodent holes as the owl does not generally dig its own. The Burrowing Owl is readily distinguished with its long legs as none of the other small owls have distinctive long legs. In adults, the under parts are barred, rather than streaked as in other small owls, although the juveniles lack barring and are buffy below. The adults are alike but the males tend to be lighter, more grayish brown and not as heavily barred below. The iris is yellow and the bill is yellowish or light grayish. Length is 9 1/2" (about the size of a Meadowlark with long legs).

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