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For the young Burrowing Owls, it’s now time to leave the nest!

Regina, SK – August 4, 2020 – The beginning of August marks the end of an important milestone in the life cycle of a Burrowing Owl and the beginning of another. Young Burrowing Owls are now starting to leave the nest and forage for themselves after weeks of being fed by their parents. The young owls are practicing their hunting and flying skills and venturing out on their own to other burrows nearby. They are a bit like teenagers now and are becoming more independent as they begin to prepare for their fall migration to southern Texas and Mexico. For people travelling in rural Saskatchewan, this is an especially good time to spot Burrowing Owls. However, it can also be a dangerous time for inexperienced young Burrowing Owls. Owls will often forage in roadside ditches, looking for insects and rodents. “At dusk the road surface tends to be warmer than the surrounding area, attracting many small insects and rodents,” explains Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan, “as a result, young owls are also attracted to the road and ditch when they begin searching for prey.


Every year, young Burrowing Owls are injured or killed by vehicle collisions while they forage along the road. The Burrowing Owl population has been steadily declining, making the survival of each owl critical for the long term growth of the population. “Motorists can reduce the risk of owl-vehicle collisions by slowing down and being cautious for owls foraging on roads and in ditches”, says Burrows. Slowing down will also increase your chances of spotting this endangered bird!


Burrowing Owls are about 9 inches tall, with mottled brown and white feathers, bushy white ‘eyebrows’, and long featherless legs. They are often found nesting in native or tame pastures that have been well grazed. Burrowing Owls nest in abandoned burrows excavated by badgers, ground squirrels (gophers), or other burrowing mammals, and are often seen standing on or next to their burrow, sitting on nearby fence posts, or foraging in roadside ditches.


Since 1987 Nature Saskatchewan’s Operation Burrowing Owl has worked with landowners to conserve and enhance Burrowing Owl habitat in Saskatchewan. In addition, the program relies on the participation of landowners to help monitor the Burrowing Owl population. Currently, there are over 350 participating landowners across Saskatchewan. If you spot a Burrowing Owl, please let us know by calling our toll-free Hoot Line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or by email at Personal and sighting information is never shared without permission.

Photo credit: James Villeneuve

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