Burrowing Owl

Photo by Bob Gress


Common Name: Burrowing Owl

Scientific Name: Athene cunicularia


Length: 9 - 10 inches
Wingspread: 23 - 24 inches
Weight: 7 - 8 ounces


Comments: Burrowing owls are most commonly observed around prairie dog towns. Sometimes they sit with just their head sticking out of a hole. They are active during the day and can be seen perched on top of mounds or fence posts. Nests are located deep in abandoned prairie dog burrows. Occasionally they use an abandoned hole dug by a badger or fox. When the 3-10 young are about 3 weeks old they venture out of the hole. They can be very entertaining to watch as they hop and flutter about and bob their heads in a curious motion. They will stare at prairie dogs while moving their heads in a circular motion, and sometimes turn their heads completely upside down as if to get a unique perspective.

Distribution: The burrowing owl is found in open grasslands throughout the western half of the United States. Another population occurs in southern Florida. In Kansas, burrowing owls are summer residents and primarily found in the western third of the state.

Food: Insects and mice make up the bulk of the burrowing owl’s diet. They will sometimes eat small birds, fish, lizards, snakes, frogs and toads.