Burrowing Owl

Athene cunicularia

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Habitat

Status

Endangered (Federal)
Red Listed (Provincial)

Description

The Burrowing Owl averages 24 cm in length with a round head and long legs. Adults have an aggressive look with yellow eyes, white eyebrows and a white throat. The Burrowing Owl is slightly smaller than a pigeon. They are mostly light brown with grey and black spots throughout their body. Its small size, thin legs, and almost completely unfeathered toes make the Burrowing Owl a unique member of the owl family.

Burrowing Owls prefer flat, treeless terrain, such as pastures grazed by livestock or the edges of agricultural fields. It favours open, sparsely vegetated areas with burrows excavated by American Badgers.
Due to the severe decline in Badgers in BC resulting in insufficient burrow availability, Burrowing Owls disappeared from BC in the 1980s. Recent reintroduction efforts have resulted in a small handful of individuals returning annually

Threats

-Lack of nesting sites due to the severe decline in badger populations
-Fragmentation and degradation of remaining grasslands
-Agricultural practices that have reduced the number of suitable burrows
-Predation by feral cats and dogs
-Vehicle mortality

You Can Help!

-Protect and conserve wildlife habitat
-Support local reintroduction efforts
-Use traps to control pests rather than poison to prevent secondary poisoning

For more information on Burrowing Owls, visit https://www.burrowingowlbc.org

Resources