The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a tiny, but 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 dry, open area with low vegetation.
They nest and roost in burrows, such as those excavated by prairie dogs. Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are often active during the day, although they tend to avoid the mid-day heat.
Most hunting is still done from dusk until dawn, like many owls, when they can use their night vision and hearing to their advantage Burrowing Owls have bright yellow eyes. The beak can be between yellowish or greenish 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 behaviors, such as bobbing of the head when agitated.
Adults have brown upper parts with white spotting.
The chest and belly 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.
Also, the young owls have a buff bar across the upper wing and their breast may be buffy rather than white. Burrowing Owls of all ages have grayish legs longer than other owls.
Males and females are similar in size and appearance.
Females tend to be heavier, but males tend to have longer linear measurements (wing length, tail length, etc.). Adult males appear lighter in color than females because they spend more time outside the burrow during daylight, and their feathers become “sun-bleached”.
The average adult is slightly larger than an American Robin at 25 cm (10 inches) length, 53 cm (21 inches) wingspan, and 170g (6 oz).