Burrowing owl hanging out at its burrow

Owls and squirrels?

Burrowing owl

Burrowing owls are small birds that stand about 7.5 to 9.5 inches tall. Like their name says, they make their nests in burrows in the ground instead of in a tree. The burrow is this tiny bird’s “home sweet home,” where it hides from predators, lays eggs, and raises its young. A burrowing owl usually uses a hole dug by ground squirrels, prairie dogs, armadillos, tortoises, or skunks.

Burrowing owl sitting on a barbed wire fence

Losing ground

Burrowing owls are facing a problem in Southern California and other parts of their range. When parking lots and shopping centers are built, the birds lose their home and hunting grounds! San Diego Zoo Global has a group of scientists working on understanding exactly what burrowing owls need in their habitat. Then, we will be able to use this information to help protect habitat for these tiny predators.

Squirrel peeking out of hole in ground

Coming home

A section of land has been set aside to create new habitat for burrowing owls. But before the birds can move in, their homes need to be built. Researchers remove ground squirrels from areas where people don’t want them, and release them in the new area. After the squirrels have dug tunnels, burrowing owls will be brought in.