Owls, typically are seen at dusk or in the night sky as they are preparing to hunt. And they also typically live in nests amongst the trees, right? Right.
All except for one type of owl, which actually lives here in Phoenix. This owl is known as the Burrowing Owl.
This is the only bird in North America that actually lives underground. They also hunt during the day. So break free of what you think you know about owls, because these burrow owls are breaking all the norms.
These little guys are only about 10 inches tall with a 20 inch wingspan. They prefer to live in open spaces where they are able to stay on the ground close to their nests and hunt. These owls live underground, but they are not capable of digging up their own holes. Instead they depend on other desert animals, like prairie dogs to do the job and then they swipe in and claim it.
Burrowing Owls are typically more active at dusk and dawn. But it’s not uncommon for them to be out hunting during the day or night. These owls tend to eat insects and small mammals. Their predator’s include bigger mammals, such as coyotes. But, when they feel threaten they have a great defense mechanism. They are able to make a sound that resembles the noise of a rattlesnake, hopefully scaring off any predators.
Throughout the years the chances of actually seeing a burrowing owl while hiking is becoming rarer and rarer. Due to climate change and loss of habitat these owls are wistfully dwindling away.
The good news is that the Rio Salado Audubon Center have programs where they go out and re-home these owls into safe areas. Visitors can go and see the owls and if you want to help the cause they are also looking for volunteers. For information on where these owls can be found, click here.