Owl (Burrowing)

Athene cunicularia

IUCN Red List status: Least Concern

For more info on classifications, visit www.iucnredlist.org

Least Concern


Where they live

North and South America, except in Amazonia


most types of suitable habitat except dense rainforest


length 18-26cm, wingspan 53cm




9 years in wild 10+ years in captivity


Not listed as endangered but the population in North America is in decline due to control programmes for prairie dogs and loss of habitat as more and prairie is developed for agriculture and human use. The distribution has widened in some areas of South America where the owl is colonising areas of deforestation.

Did you know...

  • Unlike most owls in which the female is larger than the male, the sexes of the burrowing owl are the same size
  • When alarmed, young birds will make a hissing call that sounds like a rattlesnake

More about burrowing owls...

The burrowing owl is so named because it lives in underground burrows that have been dug out by small mammals such as prairie dogs and ground squirrels. Unlike most owls they are day-active especially in the spring when they are busy feeding young.

The burrowing owl is found over a range of habitats across North, Central and South America preferring to live in open areas with low ground cover. Burrowing owls eat moles and mice during the spring but are known to take insects such as grasshoppers and beetles later in the summer. They are also known to eat amphibians, reptiles and birds.

Burrowing owls often nest in loose colonies about 80m apart The nest, which is normally about 3m from the entrance to the burrow, is lined with a range of materials. Usually 5-6 eggs are laid, hatching after an incubation period of 28 days. The young owls fledge after 44 days.

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