The Owl Who Lives In Burrows

March 28, 2017

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Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

The small, long-legged owl with white eyebrows and bright yellow eyes who lives in ground burrows is called Burrowing Owl. Unlike the resident owls in the southern parts of their range, Chico’s Burrowing Owls are migratory.  They are also found in northern and in southern South American grasslands where they are resident and non-migratory.  On Chico and in other areas of eastern Colorado, Burrowing Owls can be found from late March into fall in abandoned prairie-dog burrows (photo).  They are most common in rangelands and will avoid agricultural fields. It is common to see cow dung near the entrance to the burrows and it has been speculated the dung attracts insects which becomes the most important part of a young Burrowing Owl’s diet.  At other times of the year, these daytime hunters feast on small rodents, birds, and sometimes on snakes. Head bobbing and loud calls indicates Burrowing Owls sense potential predators. Their loose colonies offer more than one burrow to hop into. When forced to fly, their undulating flight is unique.