This small, brown, white-speckled bird appears to be standing on stilts with his hands in his pockets. Pete Dunne has called the Burrowing Owl a "Potato on Stilts." As a member of the typical owls family (Strigidae), he has good eyesight for catching prey in the dark or daylight. His bright yellow eyes are inset in a relatively flat face on a rounded head.
Like the prairie dog, this owl likes dirt and often builds an underground tunnel six to ten feet long in open, dry, or sparsely vegetated areas. He can be coaxed into using an artificial burrow made of PVC pipe or may use water culverts and drains. He hunts for prey from a perch (e.g., limb, rock, fence post, road sign) and stalks prey on the ground or flycatches insects in the air. Prey are primarily invertebrates.
While not a strong vocalist, the Burrowing Owl does make sounds such as "cuh-huh," "whoof" or "whew," "whe'h'h'h'h'h," and "reah."
His flight is steady and direct with a glide as he lands. Click here to go to Project Perch Photos where you can see slideshows of Burrowing Owls including one on Flight School.
A Threatened Species
The Burrowing Owl in Florida has been on the Special Concerns Species list and because of a drop in numbers is now on the Threatened list.
Project Perch contributes to data collection on this population of birds. To see more on the Project Perch - Burrowing Owls at Schools Click here.
Annual bird census of these owls during breeding season has been important in documenting changes to this population and to feed into national databases. To read about Burrowing Owls Census: Getting Owls on the Map, click here.
Burrowing Owl in Danger?
If you think a Burrowing Owl is in immediate danger, please consult the "Burrowing Owl Guide to Injured Owls" or contact the Law Enforcement Division of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (MyFWC.com) directly at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). You can call 24 hours a day/7 days a week and can choose to remain anonymous if you like.
If the owls are not in immediate danger, the FWC can send signs to the property owner or manager for use in notifying people in the area of the protected status of the Burrowing Owls. Guide to Friendly Fences, Perches, and Signs
Burrowing Owls Guidelines & Plans
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a range of information on Burrowing Owls. Click on the heading to access each.