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.
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.
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.
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.
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