Burrowing Owl

burowl
Find More Birds

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

 

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

 

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

Climate Endangered

Burrowing Owl

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
Zoom InOut
Focal Species
Geoff Gallice/Flickr Creative Commons
Cool Facts

Often lines its burrow with horse or cow manure, and will eat the dung beetles that are attracted.

Catches food with its feet. Typically consumes insects and small mammals such as voles and mice, but it’ll eat anything it can get its feet on, including birds, ground squirrels, frogs, snakes, salamanders, earthworms, bats, scorpions, and caterpillars.

In most owl species, females average slightly larger than males, but male Burrowing Owls are as big as females or even slightly larger.

Today the bird is often found nesting in small groups, but it used to be found in much larger congregations. A Florida colony in the 1880s was 3 miles long and contained several hundred pairs of owls.


Audubon’s climate models predict that by 2080, this diurnal owl species could lose 77 percent of its current breeding range. Climate change will disrupt its winter range as well, leaving only 33 percent intact, shifting the remaining 67 percent elsewhere. The Burrowing Owl is already a species of conservation concern because modern agricultural practices have removed the prairie dogs and ground squirrels that it depends on to provide nesting burrows. Artificial burrows might help stem population declines in the coming decades.

Species Range Change from 2000 to 2080

The size of the circles roughly indicates the species’ range size in 2000 (left) and 2080 (right).

The amount of overlap between the 2000 circle and the 2080 circle indicates how stable the range will be geographically. Lots of overlap means the bird’s range doesn’t shift much. No overlap means the species will leave its current range entirely.

About This Bird

This comical little raptor is an easily recognized icon of the grasslands and arid regions of western North America and Florida, and is widespread in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America as well. This owl uses a variety of hunting methods. It may pursue large insects by hopping or running across the ground, but it also hunts insects and rodents by swooping down from a raised perch or from hovering flight. Hunting by day or night, it tends to take large insects during daylight in warm weather, small mammals at night or in winter. Lives in loose colonies and nests in underground burrows; while capable of digging its own, it often uses an existing hole provided by prairie dogs, skunks, or armadillos, and isn’t shy about moving into manmade burrows provided by conservationists. It is migratory in northern portions of its range, and inhabits open, treeless areas wherever it’s found—including agricultural fields, golf courses, cemeteries, and airports. Populations are declining in many areas.

Cool Facts

Often lines its burrow with horse or cow manure, and will eat the dung beetles that are attracted.

Catches food with its feet. Typically consumes insects and small mammals such as voles and mice, but it’ll eat anything it can get its feet on, including birds, ground squirrels, frogs, snakes, salamanders, earthworms, bats, scorpions, and caterpillars.

In most owl species, females average slightly larger than males, but male Burrowing Owls are as big as females or even slightly larger.

Today the bird is often found nesting in small groups, but it used to be found in much larger congregations. A Florida colony in the 1880s was 3 miles long and contained several hundred pairs of owls.


Birds at Risk

Explore more birds threatened by climate change around the country.

Allen's Hummingbird
Baird's Sparrow
Bald Eagle
Brown Pelican
Burrowing Owl
Cerulean Warbler
Common Loon
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Golden Eagle
Greater Sage-Grouse
Hooded Oriole
Mississippi Kite
Northern Shoveler
Osprey
Piping Plover
Ruffed Grouse
Rufous Hummingbird
Spotted Owl
Tundra Swan
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-billed Magpie