The burrowing owl faces serious threats of extinction in America

The burrowing owl is in danger of extinction in Canada and is threatened in the USA

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The burrowing owl faces serious threats of extinction in America
© Clive Mason / Staff Getty Images

The burrowing owl is a bird of prey of the Strigidae family widespread in North and South America, especially in California. The burrowing owl has a large range that extends across the entire American continent, including: Canada, United States of America, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Netherlands Antilles, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The common name of the species is due to the fact that this owl has the habit of nesting inside burrows and burrows dug by other animals, such as the prairie dog. It is a carnivorous bird that feeds on insects, rodents, small birds. The burrowing owl builds its nest in burrows, such as those dug by prairie dogs. The female lays 4 to 12 eggs, which she incubates for three or four weeks, during which the male provides her with food.

Burrowing owl
Burrowing owl© Clive Mason / Staff Getty Images
 

After the eggs hatch, both parents take care of the chicks, which are ready to leave the nest within the first month of life. A burrowing owl measures on average 25 cm in length, with a wingspan of 53 cm and a weight of 170 g. It has a flattened facial disc with prominent white eyebrows and a white gular patch. The eyes have bright yellow irises. The bill ranges from yellow to olive green depending on the subspecies. The plumage of the upper parts is brown with whitish streaks. The chest and belly are lighter.

Burrowing owls are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in Canada, United States and Mexico. They are also included in Appendix II of CITES. NatureServe lists the species as Apparently Safe. The burrowing owl is in danger of extinction in Canada and is threatened in the USA, in the states of Colorado and Florida but, especially in California. It is common and widespread in the open regions of many neotropical countries, where it sometimes also inhabits city fields and parks. In the regions bordering the Amazon forest they are spreading through deforestation. It is therefore listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.