Owl species documented at LLELA already include Great Horned, Short-eared, Long-eared, Eastern Screech, Barred and Barn Owls. As of October 26, we can add a seventh owl species! LLELA Restoration Manager Richard Freiheit noticed an usual bird while working on the east side of LLELA, and contacted Director Ken Steigman. Dr. Steigman was able to confirm our first documented Burrowing Owl.
Burrowing Owls are unlike other owls in their habits. They are active during the daytime, spend a lot of time on the ground, and live in burrows they either dig themselves or take from other burrowing animals. They live in open habitats and feed on insects and rodents. Their numbers have declined dramatically as our prairies have vanished, along with their resident prairie dogs and ground squirrels.
Wintering Burrowing Owls may roost in tufts of vegetation instead of burrows. There is no reason to think this owl is doing anything more than passing through, as they are listed as a "casual" species for our area. But you can bet our staff and volunteers will be carefully watching for another encounter in the coming weeks to see if this individual decided to stay for the winter!