Burrowing Owls and Winter

Checking us out (June 14, 2016 – Idaho)

As you know if you’ve been following my blog, I’ve read a bunch of books on Burrowing owls and didn’t find the answer of how do burrowing owls survive winter. Once I had gone through my pile of books I did a Google search which didn’t really help either. Finally, I went to the library research databases. I had a feeling all along that it would yield my answer and I was right.

In flight (October 7, 2018 – Utah)

Burrowing owls have several strategies for surviving the winter.

One: Pick up and move south to Mexico and find a roost site (still a burrow). If appropriate burrow sites are close together the owls will live close together. Though food availability is another factor in how many owls can live near each other.

Hiding in the grass (April 12, 2019 – Utah)

Two: Stay put as long as the snow doesn’t get too deep or the temps too low. This is usually only for populations in the southwestern states.

Such a lightweight bird (May 18, 2019 – Utah)

Three: Most suprisingly there was at least a little evidence that an occasional owl will move north. It is speculated that this is so that they can claim better roosting/burrow sites.

Size comparison two humans holding a Great horned owl and a Burrowing owl (May 13, 2016 – Great Salt Lake Bird Festival)

So there you have it, they migrate except when they don’t depending on the weather. BUT they always roost in burrows which I discovered was another of my un-asked questions. — Jenny

Valdez-Gómez, Héctor E., Holroyd, Geoffrey L., Trefry, Helen E., Contreras-Balderas, Armando J., “Home Ranges, Habitats, and Roosts of Wintering Burrowing Owls In Agricultural Landscapes In Central Mexico.” Journal of Raptor Research. Jun 2018, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p178-190. 13p.

French, Brett, “Burrowing owls flew almost 2,000 miles, study finds.” Billings Gazette, Jan 14, 2015 https://billingsgazette.com/lifestyles/recreation/burrowing-owls-flew-almost-miles-study-finds/article_392994cb-f65b-5454-b555-3111b7a39145.html

Size comparison human head vs Burrowing owl (May 13, 2016 – Great Salt Lake Bird Festival)

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