Burrowing Owl - The Cheeky Owl


Burrowing Owl - The Cheeky Owl

Welcome to my Burrowing Owl information Page, here you will find great owl information, facts on the cute little 'Athene Cunicularia' and owl video footage. Also we will look at the burrow owl in more detail, its diet, habitat, life and dangers and lots more. I hope you enjoy it :)

  • The Burrow Owl – Athene Cunicularia
  • Wingspan - 50cm
  • length - 25cm
  • Average Weight - 170g

Burrow Owl Information – Description

The Burrow Owl is a tiny and hugely lovable member of the Owl Species found in Northern and Southern America. They are generally found in open landscapes and as their name suggests live in burrows. They sometimes partially excavate these themselves however usually they are uninhabited prairie dog burrows.

The burrowing owl has fierce yellow eyes (the colour of which betrays the fact that burrowing owl hunting behaviour is mainly crepuscular) and they have silvery dark beaks. They have no ear tufts as is typical of the larger eagle owls and their faces are flat and disk shaped.

Although small, burrow owls have very long legs. This helps them mobility wise as they spend a lot of their time on the ground and often hunt this way. This Owl also has a lot of predators of it’s own and also needs the long legs for a quick dash inside of its safe burrow when needed. Red Tailed Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks and even Peregrine Falcons will make an opportunistic meal of a little owl if given half the chance.

These small owls are also at risk from many mammalian predators such as foxes and dogs and in these cases, the power of flight is very useful. Ingenious as they are, unfortunately these little birds often fall prey especially to the ferruginous hawk.

Burrowing Owl Information – lifestyle

Burrow Owls are incredibly inquisitive and their characteristic head tilting behaviour is what has captivated so many people for so long. Burrow owls are undoubtedly one of the most charming of all the birds of prey around the world.

They seem to be reasonably intelligent (for an owl) and quicker on the uptake than other owls such as the Eurasion Eagle Owl and theSnowy Owl . Even compared to the adaptive nature of theGreat Horned Owl , the burrow Owl is still very resourceful. Information on the burrow Owl has shown us that it is their inquisitive nature that has made them as successful as they are. Their versatility in the respect of finding food is remarkable. This Burrow Owl video shows the inquisitive nature very well. This is typical behaviour...

Burrowing Owl Information – Food and Hunting

For such a tiny predator, the hunting prowess of the burrowing Owl is quite considerable!

Prey species of the burrow owl include;

  • Termites
  • Crickets
  • beetles
  • Scarab Beetles
  • Locusts
  • Poisonous insects such as Scorpion, wolf spiders and centipedes.
  • Millipedes
  • Frogs
  • Toads
  • Tropical House Geckoes (one of main foods)
  • Mice
  • Certain Birds up to the size of Doves which are bigger than the Owl
  • Even fruit will be eaten and in times of starvation the owls will team up together to steal chicks from larger raptors nests!

This list really does show the ingenuity of these little owls. If it weren’t for this versatility the burrowing owl would surely lose out a lot of the time to the many larger predators that they share their territories with.

Burrowing Owl Information – breeding

Burrow owl breeding begins around march time and they select their nesting sites very carefully. They normally select open areas where they can spot danger coming from quite a distance away. This is normally open grassland although because of close proximity with humans, airports are often used.

These Owls are normally monogamous (have only one mate) although some males have been known to have more than one mate.

They will both help to spring clean the burrow, these are normally abandoned burrows from other animals such as prairie dogs or ground squirrels although if pressed, the burrow owls can excavate their own burrows.

The female will lay 1 egg a day for up to 2 weeks, a normal clutch size varies between 7 and 10 eggs which is large for any bird of prey. During the incubation period of about 1 month, the male brings food.

This is why when identifying the Burrow Owl, the male looks lighter coloured in appearance. Because of the fact he is out in the sun more, his feathers are often bleached by the sun. This is sometimes the only way of knowing which is the male because burrow owl females and males are much the same size.

Because of the large clutch size, when the eggs hatch, there is strong sibling rivalry and only the strongest survive. The average number of chicks to leave the burrow is 4-5. Scientists believe this is an evolutionary technique for ensuring the continuing development of the species. Survival of the fittest starts early on with birds of prey.

Burrowing owl information – Use in Falconry

There is no specific use for the burrow owl in falconry as it hunts mainly insects, however, like the kestrel it is extremely popular and is flown by many falconers despite its diminutive size.

Because of its charming and social character and lovable looks, many burrow owls are kept as pets and trained with falconry techniques. They also love to explore and they can provide years of fun.

They love to play and because of their inquisitive natures, they never fly too far away so the risk of losing them is not so high as with other birds of prey.

I hope you have enjoyed my burrow owl page and liked the burrowing owl video and pictures. If you have any burrow owl information you would like to share with us, please submit anything just below and I will upload it for you. Its completely free and would be very much appreciated.

I live in the UK so do not have the privilege of seeing these fantastic little owls in their own environment but anyone that has them nearby their home. An account would be great to read. Otherwise feel free to browse the rest of the site :)