What is a Burrowing Owl?

A Burrowing Owl is a small ground-dwelling Owl with a round head and no ear tuffs. They have white eyebrows, yellow eyes and long legs. The Owl is sandy colored on the head, back and upper parts of the wings. Burrowing Owls are easy to see because they are often active in daylight, and are bold and approachable. The females are usually darker than the males.

The main call of a Burrowing Owl is mainly given by the adult males when near the burrow to attract a female. A who-who is given at the entrance of a promising burrow. This call is also associated with breeding and territory defense. They also make other sounds, which are described as chuck, chatter and scream. These sounds are usually accompanied by a bobbing of the head up and down.

Burrowing Owls feed on a variety of prey. They feed on things such as beetles, grasshoppers, small mammals, especially mice, rats and ground squirrels. Unlike other Owls, they also eat fruits and seeds, especially the fruit of Tesajilla and prickly pear cactus.

The nesting season begins in late March or April. Burrowing Owls are usually monogamous but occasionally a male will have 2 mates. Burrowing Owls nest underground in abandoned burrows dug by mammals or if soil conditions allow, they will dig their burrows. These burrows are usually found in open and dry grasslands. Adults usually return to their burrow every year.

Burrowing Owls are able to live for at least 9 years in the wild and over 10 years in captivity. They are often killed by vehicles when crossing roads, and have many natural enemies, including snakes, cats and dogs.


FAU earned the Fighting Owl role because…

The FAU campus was designated a burrowing owl sanctuary in 1971 by the Audubon Society. The Owl came here because there are not many predators, other than cats, near an airport. The feisty bird, traditionally associated with wisdom and determination, serves as the University’s mascot.