Watch out for holes in the ground, they may be burrows.

Written by: John Canfield  

Published on Monday, February 12th, 2018 at 7:16 am EST

Written by: John Canfield


If I told you there is an owl that spends most of its time on the ground and lives in a burrow, would you believe me? . . . Well, you should. Meet the burrowing owl: 
Yes, they have ears... you just can't see them. Photo Credit: Alan Vernon

These guys live in underground burrows that they dig themselves or hijack from another burrowing animal, such as a tortoise or prairie-dog. On top of that, they hunt during the day and spend most of their time on the ground, or on a low to the ground perch. I must admit, they are not what I usually think of when it comes to owls! 

Unfortunately, the population of these beautiful birds has declined significantly in the last 30 years, largely due to habitat loss and the decline of other burrowing animals. Fortunately, these birds will hijack just about any burrow that is of suitable size – and conservationists take advantage of this! In many areas, the use of man-made artificial burrows has really helped to stabilize populations of these lovely birds. See below . . . 
Burrowing owl near a man-made artificial burrow. Photo Credit: George Gentry USFWS

 I will leave you with two fun facts: 
  1. Cowboys used to refer to burrowing owls as “howdy birds” since they often could be seen sitting at the entrance of there burrow bobbing their head at the cowboys, as if to say “howdy” 
  2. Females will often line the entrance of the burrow with animal manure. This draws in dung beetles and other bugs so she can catch a meal without even leaving the burrow while incubating the eggs. That is pretty crafty, if you ask me.