Friday, July 3, 2015

Burrowing Owls: Guarding burrows or foraging for food?

Fence post Burrowing Owl ©SB
This was a lucky trip through the West Block of Grasslands National Park — we saw Burrowing Owls!

Only one adult at a time, though, and we wouldn't risk harming their young by exploring to discover whether their burrows were near. So perhaps these birds were just out foraging.

(But it seems likely they were nesting nearby... We saw these birds several times, along — and right on — the same stretches of road.)

Burrowing Owls are small owls that really do nest in holes in the ground — at Grasslands, these are usually old Prairie Dog burrows.

And so, as we watched the owl (below), we also watched a scurry of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs.

This is the closest I've been to Burrowing Owls in the wild — which is not saying much, as these images are small crops from telephoto zoom shots. (At 300 mm on a cropped sensor, so ~450 mm equivalent.)

I've been much closer at the Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan — the last time I was there, young Potter was perching on a staffer's hair! — but it's wonderful to see them in their natural habitat! And we're so lucky to have a few Burrowing Owls, in a few parts of southern Saskatchewan.

Look into my golden eyes! Burrowing Owl on a rock in a Prairie Dog town. ©SB

What are these birds? Burrowing Owls.
Location: West Block, Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. 
Photo date:  June 22 and 24, 2015


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