How the Hell Did I Not Know About the Burrowing Owl?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

It goes out during the day. It runs to catch its prey. And, as its name suggests, the burrowing owl lives in holes in the ground. And more and more of them are coming to America.

The burrowing owl looks like your typical owl—maybe a bit longer in the leg than most. But while most owls roost in trees or on cliffs, this one likes to find a nice hole in the ground and go in. It will live in dens abandoned by small mammals like prairie dogs. That it can find these dens so easily is probably down to the fact that it eats small mammals like prairie dogs.


Although the burrowing owl usually hunts at night, it’s one of the few owls that a lot of people see during the day. It’s out in the morning and in the late afternoon, wandering around its burrow and casting you disdainful looks for gawking. At night, it hunts on the wing, but it will also chase down its prey by running after it, which accounts for its long legs. It also accounts for the fact that a lot of burrowing owls are hit by cars.


It’s found everywhere from Canada to South America, and all across the United States. Usually though, Floridians and east Texans don’t get to see the owl chicks. The owl winters in the southeastern United States but only breeds in the west. And it looks like it has a preference for southern climes. The Burrowing Owl Society of British Columbia spent much of their time raising and reintroducing burrowing owls to their area. They would release owls into the wild only to see them disappear. Worried that they were getting killed or hunted, they tracked the owls, only to find that a lot of them moved down south to the United States and didn’t come back.

Welcome, Canadian expatriate owls!

Top Image: Anagoria. Second Image: Berrucomons.