Burrowing Owl

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


  • Species Common Name Burrowing Owl (Western)
  • Species Scientific Name Athene cunicularia hypugaea
  • Federal Listing Status Species of Concern
  • State Listing Status Sensitive


Special needs

Burrowing Owls depend heavily upon burrows created by other species, especially badgers, for nesting. They prefer burrow sites with a high proportion of bare ground.

Limiting factors

Burrow availability is an important limiting factor for this species. Reductions in the size and number of burrows are due, in part, to habitat loss, declines in burrowing mammal populations, and collapse of burrows by livestock trampling. Disturbance during the nesting season, collisions with vehicles, and illegal shooting of owls and/or badgers further threaten this species.

Conservation actions

Maintain open ground cover >40-70%, shrub cover <15%, and native grass cover <40% and <6 inches tall in nesting areas. Provide 200 meter buffer zones around nest burrows where pesticide applications, rodent control, and human disturbance are minimized. Protect badgers in areas where Burrowing Owls are present.

Key reference or plan

Status Assessment and Conservation Plan for the Western Burrowing Owl in the United States