Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing owls are found across the flat dry grasslands of North and South America, where they use burrows often built by ground squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, badgers and even tortoises to nest and raise young. They are the only species of owl to nest in the ground.

These are tiny owls in the owl kingdom, measuring less than 30 cm. tall and weighing less than 200 grams. Although they are active during the day, they do most of their hunting for rodents and insects in that time between dawn and dust.

Burrowing Owl Photo

The decline of the species can be directly linked to human activity: the human use of the habitat and the use of pesticides has resulted in less prey, fewer burrows and fewer of these wonderful little owls. 

There's a project on in British Columbia though, on First Nations land near Merritt, BC. Three pairs of captive-bred burrowing owls will be released into burrows already waiting for them. Precautions will be taken to be sure that the little owls don't themselves become prey before adapting to their new homes. Banding will help determine if the owls return after migration

Hopes are high for success and an increase in the BC population of burrowing owls. We'll all be the beneficiaries.