These charming little owls
live and raise their young underground, so they are at risk of being
buried alive during construction projects.
Owl is the only known owl that lives underground, and
is especially affected by land development and construction.
are not able to dig their own burrows, but create homes in
existing underground spaces. Deserted squirrel
burrows, kangaroo rat mounds, coyote, fox, skunk and
badger dens provide homes for the owls.
"Burrowing Owls are adorable animals that are
entertaining to watch, and they catch insects and rodents
that most people would rather not have around."
(AZ Fish and Game Brochure - Development and Burrowing Owls
in Arizona )
Small in size
and active both day and night, this little owl is vulnerable
to mammals and other birds, and now construction in the
Southwestern U.S. has taken a major toll on their
Endangered in Canada, Threatened in Mexico, and a
Species of Special Concern in Florida and much of the Western US.
As Arizona continues to grow, one of
the greatest challenges is to minimize the impact of growth
on displaced wildlife, and the use of artificial burrows is
now helping to counter these threats.
HISTORY of THE BURROWING OWL PROJECT
In 1993, Bob and his wife "Sam" Fox, founders of Wild At Heart
(WAH), began constructing the first artificial underground burrows in Arizona,
and then began relocating rescued and rehabilitated Burrowing Owls into these new
In 2001, Greg Clark became Wild At Heart's Burrowing Owl Habitat Coordinator.
Greg has been instrumental in revolutionizing burrowing owl
conservation in Arizona through the implementation of
innovative relocation procedures developed by Wild At Heart.
Greg's assistance, the WAH prototype program expanded to
include the rescue and relocation of
Burrowing Owl colonies threatened by development.
BURROWING OWL RELOCATION FACTS
Wild At Heart burrowing owl events are open to the public. Thousands of
children and adults throughout Arizona have helped to build
approximately 5000 artificial burrows, creating habitat for over 2000
burrowing owls. Additional habitats are continuing to be built, and
many more owls are scheduled for relocation.
Captured owls are cared for by
WAH volunteers for a minimum of 90 days
-- 60 days at the WAH facility, and an additional 30 days at the new relocation site.
This transitional period is necessary to break
a Burrowing Owl's bond with its former habitat.
Permits from U.S. Fish and Wildlife must be obtained
prior to owls being trapped and relocated.
Once completed, the artificial burrows provide new, permanent homes
for families of burrowing owls that have been displaced by
development of their desert habitat.