Sacajawea Audubon

Recent Bird Sightings – Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl - photo by L. Harris

This small, ground-dwelling, diurnal owl with it's long legs is nearly unmistakable when seen in the field.  Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) most often use burrows for nesting dug by other animals, such as badgers, marmots, prairie dogs, skunks and ground squirrels.  They will often line the burrow entrance and nest cavity with dried livestock manure which serves as bedding for their eggs and chicks.  This is known to attract insect prey and signal occupancy to other owls.   They primarily feed on insects and small mammals.  They hunt insects by walking, running or hopping along the ground, or by fly-catching from a perch.  Prey is caught by the feet, then transferred to their beak for carrying.  Burrowing Owls will migrate south beginning in late August, and primarily winter in the southwestern United States.

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