Burrowing owls were named because they live in burrows that have been dug out by small mammals like ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
They have brown spotted feathers and long legs. They have distinctive white eyebrows and yellow eyes. They are one of the smallest owls in North America.
They are about 9.8 inches long and weigh about half a pound. Both males and females are the same size.
They eat small mammals such as moles and mice during the late spring and early summer. Later they switch to insects, especially grasshoppers and beetles. They have also been known to eat birds, amphibians and reptiles.
Burrowing owls are active during the day; most other owls are active during the night. They are especially active during the day when they gather food for their large broods.
They prefer open prairies with low vegetation. They can often be found perching near their burrow on fence posts and trees.
They make loud chuckling or chattering calls and bob their heads to express excitement or distress.
They often nest in loose colonies about 90 meters (295 feet) apart. Burrowing owls mate in early spring. The females lay 3 to 12 eggs. The chicks leave the burrow 45 days after they hatch. They learn to fly at 6 weeks old.
The greatest threat to burrowing owls is habitat destruction and degradation caused primarily by land development. They are also threatened by agricultural development and the use of pesticides and efforts to kill prairie dogs, which live side by side with burrowing owls.
Their predators include horned owls, hawks, foxes, badgers and domestic pets.