Burrowing Owl (Speotyto cunicularia)

The Western burrowing owl, a California Species of Special Concern, is declining across much of the state. Lost of habitat to urban development, ground squirrel control efforts, and intensive agriculture practices are the primary reason for the decrease in numbers of this bird. The burrowing owl is a robin-sized terrestrial owl, short-tailed and long legged. It is approximately 9 inches in size. It has yellow eyes; no ears turfs; face is framed in white, with blackish collar. It voice is liquid cackling; also a mellow coo-coooo, repeated twice.  

The burrowing owl ’s habitat is in the plains, deserts, fields, and airports. The female will lay her eggs in a long underground burrow lined with grasses, roots, and dung. There are usually 5-7 white eggs in one nest. The owl is found from Canada’s southern prairie provinces south throughout western United Stated to southwestern states. They also reside in central, southern Florida and tropical America.  

This comical little bird is one of the most diurnal of all owls. It often perches near its hole; when approached too closely, it will bob up and down and finally dive into its burrow rather that take flight. It usually claims burrows that have been abandoned by prairie dogs or pocket gophers but is quite capable of digging its own burrows.