Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Venezuelan Raptor Week 2: Burrowing Owls

I don't know if there is a cuter bird than the burrowing owl. How sweet is this youngster?

burrowing owl7

I tend to think of these as golf course owls for some reason. I've been doing a lot of thinking about how public amenities could be adapted to accommodate wildlife and my mind keeps drifting back to the idea of an uber-wildlife friendly golf course (a greening of the greens if you will….). The southern north American version as constructed in my mind always has a few colonies of burrowing owls decorating the rough. Perfect no? Notwithstanding this the Hato el Cedral owls (in the absence of a fictional golf course) have gone for the verges of the various farm tracks as the location of their burrows and we located five or so groups (I'm sure there are more).
burrowing owls1

For those unfamiliar with these chaps they belong to the same genus (Athene – named for Athena greek goddess of wisdom, peace, warfare, strategy, handicrafts and reason, shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour (and fan of owls)) as the little owls and are widespread through southern north America, central and south America – wikipedia offers up a list of 22 subspecies of varying validity. I have these ones down as falling within Athene cunicularia apurensis. These ones tended towards rather small groups although I did wonder if we were seeing a single long colony rather than two different ones a couple of times due to the linear nature of the track habitat. These guys feed on everything from insects and frogs and rodents up to small birds. Wikipedia mentions predation of things as big as Zenaida doves which frankly would be remarkable to see. With that being said I guess it really doesn't pay to make them angry….

burrowing owl

I don't know what I did to deserve this but if looks could kill you would not be reading this right now.


david said...

Cute but deadly! I remember having similar feelings while visiting with a family of Burrowing Owls in Argentina last year. They let me know in no uncertain terms when I got too close.

Julia said...

They must be closely related to the owls in my favourite demotivational poster: Retards: We All Know One.

jason said...

They're so cute. That last pic takes the cake, though. Definitely not in a good mood...

Neil said...

Great pics! In fact, there is a man-made Burrowing Owl housing complex adjacent to a recently developed golf course and (human) residential subdivision here in Davis. Sort of meager compensation for the paving of several acres of prime habitat, but the owls seem to like the plastic tubes just fine...

pictures here:




tai haku said...

Thanks all. Neil, I understand they accept artificial burrows remarkably well - I've definitely seen captive ones using drainpipes and so forth.