Kaieteur News – The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is a small, long-legged owl found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. Burrowing owls can be found in grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas, deserts, or any other open dry area with low vegetation. They nest and roost in burrows, such as those excavated by prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.). Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are often active during the day, although they tend to avoid the midday heat. Like many other kinds of owls, though, burrowing owls do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn, when they can use their night vision and hearing to their advantage. Living in open grasslands as opposed to forests, the burrowing owl has developed longer legs that enable it to sprint, as well as fly, when hunting.
The burrowing owl was formally described by the Spanish naturalist, Juan Ignacio Molina, in 1782 under the binomial name Strix cunicularia from a specimen collected in Chile. The specific epithet is from the Latin cunicularius meaning “burrower” or “miner.” The burrowing owl is now placed in the genus Athene that was introduced by the German zoologist, Friedrich Boie, in 1822.
The burrowing owl is sometimes classified in the monotypic genus Speotyto based on an overall different morphology and karyotype. However, osteology and DNA sequence data suggest that the burrowing owl is a terrestrial member of the little owls (Athene), and it is today placed in that genus by most authorities.
A considerable number of subspecies have been described, but they differ little in appearance and the taxonomy of several needs to be validated. Most subspecies are found in/near the Andes and in the Antilles. Although distinct from each other, the relationship of the Florida subspecies to (and its distinctness from) the Caribbean birds is not quite clear.
Burrowing owls have bright eyes; their beaks can be dark yellow or grey depending on the subspecies. They lack ear tufts and have a flattened facial disc. The owls have prominent white eyebrows and a white “chin” patch which they expand and display during certain behaviours, such as a bobbing of the head when agitated.
Adults have brown heads and wings with white spotting. The chest and abdomen are white with variable brown spotting or barring, also depending on the subspecies. Juvenile owls are similar in appearance, but they lack most of the white spotting above and brown barring below. The juveniles have a buff bar across the upper wing and their breast may be buff-coloured rather than white. Burrowing owls of all ages have greyish legs longer than those of other owls.
Males and females are similar in size and appearance and display little sexual dimorphism. Females tend to be heavier, but males tend to have longer linear measurements (wing length, tail length, etc.). Adult males appear lighter in colour than females because they spend more time outside the burrow during daylight and their feathers become “sun-bleached.” The burrowing owl measures 19–28 cm (7.5–11.0 in) long and spans 50.8–61 cm (20.0–24.0 in) across the wings and weighs 140–240 g (4.9–8.5 oz.). As a size comparison, an average adult is slightly larger than an American robin (Turdus migratorius).
Before European colonisation, burrowing owls probably inhabited every suitable area of the New World, but in North America, they have experienced some restrictions in distribution since then. In parts of South America, they are expanding their range with deforestation.
Burrowing owls range from the southern portions of the western Canadian provinces through southern Mexico and western Central America. They are also found in Florida and many Caribbean islands. In South America, they are patchy in the northwest and through the Andes, but widely distributed from southern Brazil to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Burrowing owls are year-round residents in most of their range.
The burrowing owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. It is a state threatened species in Colorado and Florida. It is common and widespread in open regions of many Neotropical countries, where they sometimes even inhabit fields and parks in cities. In regions bordering the Amazon Rainforest they are spreading with deforestation. It is therefore listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Burrowing owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in Canada, the United States and Mexico. (Source: Wikipedia)
Image saved as
May 17, 2021Kaieteur News – By Franklin Wilson Honourable Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr. was yesterday afternoon inducted as the sixth Honourary Patron (2021 2026) of Guyanas most...
May 17, 2021
May 17, 2021
May 17, 2021
May 16, 2021
May 16, 2021
Kaieteur News – Do you know how many PPP, PNC, WPA and AFC leaders could have changed directions and become loved ones... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]