Critter Science

The Science of Animals

burrowing owl

The Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl is found in open areas with low & sparse vegetation, usually they’re seen on lightly sloping terrain. The owls can be found in deserts, grasslands, steppes, golf courses, agricultural fields, pastures, road embankments, airstrips, cemeteries, and even vacant lots. They are often located around high concentrations of burrowing mammals like prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and they even live in tortoise burrows. They have been documented as living from Canada all the way down to South America!

First the Stats…

Scientific name: Athene cunicularia
Weight: 5.3 ounces
Length: 10 inches
Lifespan: Up to 8 years

Now on to the Facts!

1.) Unlike other owls, the burrowing owl is primarily diurnal (active during the day). However, they will occasionally hunt for mice at night.

2.) These owls don’t make their homes in trees. Instead, they borrow burrows from other animals like prairie dogs and tortoises.

3.) The IUCN lists them as “Least Concern”.

4.) Burrowing owls can withstand high levels of carbon dioxide; more so than other birds. This is, in part, due to the fact that they spend periods of time underground, where carbon dioxide levels can be high.

5.) Just like other burrowing critters, these owls will hoard food. It was once documented that over 200 mice were found in one burrow!

But wait, there’s more on the burrowing owl!

6.) Their song is a 2-note coo coooo. They also make a series of rattles, clucks, and chatters. They are even able to imitate the sound of a rattle snake!

7.) When they are about to lay eggs, they will adorn their burrow entrance with feces in order to attract insects that will later be used for food for their little ones.

Did you know…?
Burrowing owls are quick and can even catch flying insects from mid-air!

8.) To show that their burrow is occupied, they will decorate their entrances with things like leaves, foil, bottle caps, paper scraps, cigarette butts, and other types of litter.

Now a Short Burrowing Owl Video!

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Critter Man

With over 40 years of critter experience to my credit and hundreds of zoology teaching hours to people around the world, I have amassed not only a continuing thirst for critter knowledge but a desire to teach others all I can about the majesty and wonder of our natural world. Critter Science is a culmination of such knowledge.I have hands on as well as book acquired intel on all kinds of critters. Whether they're on land, sea, or air.I will never say that I know everything about all animals. That's impossible, even for a savant. But, that being said, ask me any animal question and I'll answer it. If I don't know the answer, I'll get an answer for you!Let it be said that I have been oft times accused of loving animals more than I love people. I can neither confirm nor deny this.

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