20+ Interesting Facts About Burrowing Owls

  1. Burrowing owls are small birds with long legs. They are one of the smallest among owls.
  2. Burrowing owls are native to the Americas, ranging from Canada in the north to the southernmost part of South America. Their habitat includes deserts, grasslands, and treeless plains.
  3. Burrowing owls usually live in burrows abandoned by other animals, including prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and tortoises. If there are no natural lairs, these owls can also use pipes, tubes, and other artificial places for nesting. They rarely dig their burrows.
  4. Burrowing owls are the only birds of prey in North America that nest underground.
  5. Burrowing owls have the highest tolerance for CO2 among euthermic birds. This feature assists them in living inside burrows with high levels of CO2. (Source)
  6. Burrowing owls usually hunt during dusk and dawn. It is different from most other owls with nocturnal behavior. Therefore, they are more visible than other owl species. 
  7. Burrowing owls primarily use their long legs for running on the ground. Their flights also usually remain close to the ground in search of food or for finding new burrows. 
    A burrowing owl on a stone
    Burrowing owls use their long legs to run on the ground

  8. Burrowing owls decorate the entrance of their burrows with dung, bottle caps, and other waste materials. It tells other owls about the occupation of the nest.
  9. The burrowing owl put mammal dung in and outside the nest to attract dung beetles, their favorite insect food. This dung also conceals the smell of their eggs from snakes and other predators. (Source)
  10. There are more than 20 subspecies of burrowing owls. Few of these are migratory, while others live in a single location.
  11. Unlike most other owl species, males are slightly larger than females in burrowing owls. Males are also lighter in color than females.
  12. Burrowing owls usually live less than ten years in the wild. Captive owls can outlive their wild counterparts.
  13. Burrowing owls have several predators due to their small size and ground-dwelling behavior. These include badgers, weasels, felines, canines, snakes, and birds of prey.
  14. A unique defensive technique of burrowing owls against predators is producing a hissing sound, like rattlesnakes, from inside the burrows.
  15. Various burrowing owl families in nests can form a loose colony in an area. The members of this colony work collectively to protect their nests from predators.
  16. Burrowing owls are usually monogamous, but males sometimes mate with two females.
  17. The burrowing owl clutch includes 2 to 12 eggs. Chicks hatch one by one after nearly one month of incubation and then remain inside the burrow with their mother for two weeks. The male owl fulfills their food requirement during this period.
  18. Burrowing owls eat a wide variety of animals. These include insects, amphibians, reptiles, scorpions, centipedes, and small mammals.
  19. Expansion of towns and agriculture are the main threats to burrowing owls. They also face problems with the extensive hunting of ground squirrels and other burrowing animals. Consequently, burrowing owls have become endangered or threatened in Canada, Mexico, and some parts of the USA.
  20. Various organizations dig artificial burrows to protect burrowing owls in areas where they are endangered. These owls live without hesitance in places near human-occupied areas.
  21. Burrowing owls save extra food in their burrows. It assists them during the gestation and incubation periods.
  22. The male burrowing owl tries to attract a female by bringing food and performing acrobat flights.
  23. Unlike many other owl species that avoid rain, burrowing owls enjoy and run around during rain showers. However, heavy rain can destroy their nests and kill chicks. 

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