Burrowing Owl, Salton Sea

My friend Jim Campbell told me about a nest of burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) he found near the Salton Sea. So while I was driving around out there, I went by to see if I could find them. I honestly didn’t think I would find any. Yet there they were, exactly were Jim described!. They were so small I nearly overlooked them. One of the pair never really came out of the burrow, just peeking its head out occasionally, but the other stood watch while I was there. These little owls are only about 10″ tall. They occupy burrows that have been dug by rodents and other animals, and sometimes will use piping or irrigation equipment in lieu of a dirt burrow. Burrowing owls will nest and rear their chicks from February through July or August. I may go back and take another look at this owl later this spring in the hope that his (her?) chicks are old enough to peek out of the burrow.

Burrowing owl (Western North American race hypugaea). This 10-inch-tall burrowing owl is standing besides its burrow. These burrows are usually created by squirrels, prairie dogs, or other rodents and even turtles, and only rarely dug by the owl itself, Athene cunicularia, Athene cunicularia hypugaea, Salton Sea, Imperial County, California

Burrowing owl (Western North American race hypugaea). This 10-inch-tall burrowing owl is standing besides its burrow. These burrows are usually created by squirrels, prairie dogs, or other rodents and even turtles, and only rarely dug by the owl itself.
Image ID: 22478
Species: Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia, Athene cunicularia hypugaea
Location: Salton Sea, Imperial County, California, USA

A burrowing owl peeks out of a drainage pipe.  This 10-inch-tall burrowing owl is standing besides its burrow. These burrows are usually created by squirrels, prairie dogs, or other rodents and even turtles, and only rarely dug by the owl itself, Athene cunicularia, Athene cunicularia hypugaea, Salton Sea, Imperial County, California

A burrowing owl peeks out of a drainage pipe. This 10-inch-tall burrowing owl is standing besides its burrow. These burrows are usually created by squirrels, prairie dogs, or other rodents and even turtles, and only rarely dug by the owl itself.
Image ID: 22479
Species: Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia, Athene cunicularia hypugaea
Location: Salton Sea, Imperial County, California, USA

See more burrowing owl photos.