After spending the winter in tropical Mexico and the Southwestern United States, one of Saskatchewan’s most well-known species-at-risk has returned home for the season.
The Burrowing Owl is back.
After migration, these endangered owls are busy; starting the mating process, finding a home, and laying and incubating their eggs.
Burrowing Owls are identifiable by their small size (~9 inches tall) and light and dark brown mottled plumage with white spots.
Despite their name, Burrowing Owls do not dig a burrow themselves.
They have to rely on the empty, abandoned burrows that have already been created by ground squirrels, badgers, and other burrowing mammals.
Once a suitable nest is found, the female lays 6 – 14 eggs each spring.
These eggs are of critical importance to the survival and recovery of the species – there are thought to be less than 800 pairs nesting throughout Canada.
To ensure the nesting success of Burrowing Owls, it is important to minimize human activity around the nests as much as possible.
However, the owls coexist with cattle very well. In fact, cattle are even beneficial to the Burrowing Owl.
There are many advantages to having these owls on your land, especially the free pest control.
Burrowing Owls eat huge numbers of insects, mice, voles, and grasshoppers.
Anyone who spots a Burrowing Owl is urged to record any sighting by calling Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line, 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).
(Photographs by A Fortney and Shelly Fisher)