Burrowing owls are a group of small owls that live in grasslands, deserts, and other open landscapes. They live in burrows in the ground made by other creatures and forage for food on the ground, such as insects and small animals. These amazing little animals often bring animal dung back to their burrows to attract beetles when they are sitting on nests. A lot of time burrowing owls mate for life and sometimes form colonies of nesting pairs. Burrowing owls are small, and sometimes are liable to be crushed if their nests happen to be on a construction site. Their owlets’ cry sounds like a rattlesnake, which scares off predators. These owls have a brown back with white spots to blend in with their environment, which is one reason why they are able to flatten themselves to the ground when hiding, instead of flying off.
Why Are They Endangered?
Burrowing owls are mainly endangered because of a lack of habitat. Much of burrowing owls’ former habitat is being used to build things such as business and farms. Without their habitat, these owls are unable to raise their chicks safely. They are also endangered because of a decline in the number of ground squirrels, and because some people poison and trap ground animals. Burrowing owls rely on ground squirrels for burrows and for food. These resourceful little owls have made their homes in all sorts of things as the number of livable habitat declines. They even use PVC pipes, tubing, buckets, and other burrow-y materials.
While you could say that the burrowing owl’s endangerment doesn’t have as much of an effect on humans as, say, the honeybee, burrowing owls are still a part of the ecosystem and without them, there would be consequences. Burrowing owls eat bugs, so without them, there would be more bugs. They also are prey for some other animals and without them, their predators would lose prey. Burrowing owls are a cute and important part of the earth’s ecosystem so we need to help save them from extinction.
What Can You Do?
You can raise awareness about burrowing owls habitats being destroyed. Many times people don’t even know what a burrowing owl is. Also, in some states people who are building where a burrowing owl pair lives have to fill out a lot of forms to get the birds out of the area safely. So, if you see a burrowing owl in a construction site, you may want to tell someone to see if the company is properly handling it.
"Burrowing Owl." Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/burrowing-owl. Accessed 22 Mar. 2020.
"Burrowing Owl." Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/owls/burrowing-owl/. Accessed 22 Mar. 2020.
Shanmuga, Santosh, editor. "Burrowing Owls." All About Birds, Cornell Lab, www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Burrowing_Owl/overview. Accessed 22 Mar. 2020.
*all pictures used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.