Burrowing owl (8)
|This is the same animal in my last photo about this species, only a meters away. Was taken in the week end house of a cousin of mine.|
BURROWING OWL(english) - LECHUZA DE LAS VIZCACHERAS (spanish)- CORUJA DO CAMPO (portugues)
In the U.S.A., Burrowing Owls have a wide distribution in open, well-drained grasslands, steppes, deserts, prairies, and agricultural lands. They occur in all states west of the Mississippi Valley, breed south through the western and mid-western States; and are resident in Florida. They extend south into Mexico, Central America and South America but populations have declined in many areas due to human-caused habitat loss or alteration.
The major habitat needs of Burrowing Owls are prairie-like terrain with low herbaceous vegetation, deep soil for burrows, the occurrence of mammals that excavate burrows, and a food supply. They are adapted to open, usually dry country with short vegetation. Being ground-dwellers, it is difficult for them to detect approaching predators or find prey in brushland or forest. They are well adapted to grazed rangelands, but find croplands less suitable. The terrain is often flat, but rugged landscapes are also used.
Another distinguishing feature of the owl is its tolerance of non-threatening human activity. Nests are sometimes found in cow pastures near farm buildings, on airports, or on road right-of-ways. This tolerance, together with its habit of loafing around the nest burrow or on fenceposts in daylight, make this one of the most observable of all owl species.
The Burrowing Owl has been described as a short fat owl on stilts. The long, almost bare legs and stubby tail of this plump-looking little owl are indeed distinctive. It is similar in size to the American Robin, with a total length (head to tail) of about 24 cm. Long legs help this "ground owl" see over the low "short-grass" prairie vegetation in a landscape with few elevated perches, and also aid in running down insect prey.
Female Burrowing Owls are slightly smaller than males, an uncommon situation for birds of prey. This may be an adaptation for squeezing into narrow burrows. The sexes have similar colouring, although males often appear faded, possibly from spending more time exposed to the sun. Adults are a rich sandy-brown colour, thickly spotted with whites and buffs on the underparts; the underparts are whitish, barred with brown. This colouring provides good camouflage in dry grassland habitats.