Wildlife Wednesday – The Burrowing Owl, what a hoot!
The Burrowing Owl is unlike most other owls. It lives in burrows underground, is active during the day, the female is smaller than the male, and its favourite foods are insects. This owl is drably coloured, with a mix of brown, white and beige spotting. To protect the female and the young, the male typically remains outside of the burrow to keep watch, standing upright on his long thin legs, so that he can see further. The Burrowing Owl can stand a whopping, 23-28cm tall!
When threatened, the Burrowing Owl makes a hissing noise that sounds like a rattlesnake! Since the Burrowing Owl need sparsely vegetated grasslands with burrows excavated by badgers, ground squirrels or other mammals, finding a suitable habitat is becom difficult. However, the Burrowing Owl has come to find its ideal habitat in the regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. More specifically, the area of Govenlock.
Govenlock is a region in southwest Saskatchewan where many species are found, like the Burrowing Owl. Govenlock’s luscious grasslands make for the ideal habitat for this owl. This owl is now Endangered, with many reasons due to population decline because of habitat degradation.
Since the Burrowing Owl’s rely on their burrows already excavated, and the mammals that excavate to create the burrows, are declining in population, these owls are unable to find suitable nesting sites. These mammals (badgers, ground squirrels) are regarded as pests by farmers and are being killed. Ground squirrels and foxes are also often killed with poison when they interfere with humans; and since the Burrowing owl feeds on the carcasses of the small animals, they too are poisoned.
The Burrowing Owl now has a fighting chance at survival! With less use of pesticides, the Burrowing Owl has the potential to be saved. Now, we can focus on helping the species reproduce and flourish, so that it is present for many generations to come. If you share this information with your friends and family, they will learn about the Burrowing Owl and they can help the owl too! To help, if you live near or on farmland, protect the mammals that create the nesting sites for the Burrowing Owls! Also, if you live in rural areas, be careful when driving as foxes and squirrels tend to cross the street at any moment!