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Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls are small owls of open grassy areas. They nest and roost in cavities that, in Florida, are often dug or enlarged by the owls. Their cavities can be several feet long and usually include at least one bend, thus limiting light in the burrow. Dirt and debris are left at the entrance, thus building up a low mound around the entrance. In addition Burrowing Owls often collect animal dung and deposit it in the burrow – perhaps as a deterrent to predators. Young chicks remain in the burrow, but older chicks often stand near the burrow entrance to wait for food. Both adults and chicks are camouflaged in shades of brown and white, blending into their environment. Adults are boldly marked with more distinct streaks and spots, and barring on the breast. Young chicks are down-covered in earth-tone colors. As adult feathers emerge, down is still evident and markings are dull and more diffuse, helping to lessen sunlight reflection. These owls are often quite tolerant of humans and in many areas nest in open areas around human homes. As a result, many are lost to dogs, cats, collision with cars, and human habitat alteration and Burrowing Owl numbers have declined.