Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Burrowing owl
Athene cunicularia

 

Taxonomy
Occurence in Illinois
Status
Habitat associations
Guilds
Food-habits
Environmental associations
Life history
Management practices
References


TAXONOMY

 

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Genus: Athene
  • Species: Athene cunicularia
  • Authority: Molina

Comments on taxonomy:
Prior to 1979, placed under genus Speotyto *06,07,09*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Species is a "very rare spring vagrant in north and central," occurring between late March and early May.

 


STATUS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories
Forest Service Categories: S = recommended for regional sensitive status, F = forest listed species, M = management indicator species

Federal Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed for listing
Candidate for proposal Recovery plan approved Recovery plan received (USFWS)
Recovery plan in preparation Under notice of review Delisted
Migratory EPA indicator Forest Serv.- Shawnee species

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Comments on status:
Considered beneficial due to its feeding on insects and rodent pests *09,11*. Species protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Illinois wildlife code of 1972 *13,15*.

 


HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories

General habitat:

Unknown Terrestrial Aquatic Riparian

USFS timber inventory forest size class:

Unknown Unstocked Seedling Sapling
Seedling/sapling Pole Mature Over mature

Land use and land cover:

Unknown   Urban Residential
Commercial
Industrial
Transportation, communication
Complex industrial/commercial
Mixed
Other
Agricultural Crop, pasture
Orchards, groves, nurseries
Feedlot
Other
Rangeland Herbaceous
Shrub and brush
Mixed
Forestland Deciduous
Evergreen
Mixed
Water Stream
Lake
Reservoir
Bay
Wetland Forest
Non-forest
Barren Salt flat
Beach
Sand
Rock
Mine
Transit
Mix

 


Forest cover types: No records.

Associated tree species: No records.

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Habitat includes "open grasslands, prairies, farmland, airfields" *07*.

High value habitats: No records.

 


GUILDS

Feed-guilding: No records.

Breed-guilding: No records.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is CARNIVORE

 

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Malacostraca (isopods, amphipods, crayfishes) Unknown
Insecta Unknown
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Unknown
Dermaptera (earwigs) Unknown
Coleoptera (beetles) Unknown
Reptiles Unknown
Mammals Juvenile, adult
Soricidae (shrews) Unknown
Chiroptera (bats) Unknown
Leporidae (rabbits, hares) Juvenile
Sciuridae (squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, prairie dogs) Unknown
Cricetidae (woodrats, mice, voles, lemmings, muskrat) Adult
Birds Adult
Important:
Insecta Unknown
Mammals Juvenile, adult
Adult:
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Malacostraca (isopods, amphipods, crayfishes) Unknown
Insecta Unknown
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Unknown
Dermaptera (earwigs) Unknown
Coleoptera (beetles) Unknown
Reptiles Unknown
Mammals Juvenile, adult
Soricidae (shrews) Unknown
Chiroptera (bats) Unknown
Leporidae (rabbits, hares) Juvenile
Sciuridae (squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, prairie dogs) Unknown
Cricetidae (woodrats, mice, voles, lemmings, muskrat) Adult
Birds Adult

Comments on food habits: 
General: Mammals make up greatest amount of biomass eaten and insects are the most numerous foodtype taken *10*.
Adult: See [FH].


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Tree cavities: unknown
  • Ecotones: crop field/grassland
  • Pastures: unknown
  • Grassland: unknown
  • Old fields: unknown
  • Grasses: see comments
  • Snags: unknown
  • Agricultural crops: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: climax grassland
  • Human associations: see comments
  • Unknown

Egg

  • Unknown

Resting juvenile:

  • Snags: unknown

Feeding adult:

  • Ecotones: crop field/grassland
  • Pastures: unknown
  • Grassland: unknown
  • Old fields: unknown
  • Vegetation successional stage: stable prairie/grassland
  • Vegetation successional stage: climax grassland

Breeding adult:

  • Tree cavities: unknown
  • Snags: unknown

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Wheat fields mentioned *05*.
Resting adult: Perches on or near ground *14*.
Breeding adult: Known to nest in banks of irrigation canals *09*.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Native *14*.

Reproduction: Breeding season in Calif. = early March *09*; incubation period = 3 weeks *11*; 1 reproductive/year *11*; breeding behavior-- male and female develop strong pair bond through courtship song and nuzzling near burrow *11*; clutch size = 6-11 eggs, or 3-6 fledglings per nest *09,11*.

Behavior: Migration = breeding/wintering *09,11*; foraging = direct flight from perch, hovering 15 meters above ground, or running down prey *09,10*; nest site = burrow is most common, also cavities, open arid country, 1460-1560 meters in elevation (in one study) *05,09,11*; parental care of young = both parents incubate *11*.

Limiting factors: Nest sites *09*; parasites *08,09*. Aquatic/terrestrial associations: uses burrows of Citellus beecheyi and other burrowing rodents as its own burrow, one source suggests species distribution may be limited to presence of colonial burrowing rodents *05,09*.

Population parameters: Mortality of eggs and young in nest from predation by gopher snakes, skunks, and badgers *09*.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining natural areas and nature preserves
  • Maintaining unique or special habitat features (wetlands, snags, caves, cliffs, talises, etc.)

Comments on management practices:
Species protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Illinois wildlife code of 1972 *13,15*. Maintain open, dry areas including grasslands, prairies.

 


REFERENCES

0. UNVERIFIED

1. FOSTER, C. 101 CHEATHAM HALL, BLACKSBURG, VA. 24061.

2. FLANAGAN, J. 1107 PROGRESS, APT. 2, BLACKSBURG, VA. 24060.

3. ORNITHOLOGY, VIRGINIA SOCIETY OF, 1979. VIRGINIA'S BIRDLIFE: AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST. VIRGINIA SOCIETY OF ORNITHOLOGY, LYNCHBURG, VA.

4. LEGRAND, H.E., JR., AND P.B. HAMEL. 1980. BIRD-HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS ON SOUTHEASTERN FOREST LANDS. DEPT. ZOOL., CLEMSON UNIV., CLEMSON, SC. NUMBER OF PAGES: 276 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

5. SMITH, D.G., AND J.R. MURPHY. 1982. NEST SITE SELECTION IN RAPTOR COMMUNITIES OF THE EASTERN GREAT BASIN DESERT. PAGES 395-404. GREAT BASIN NAT. VOL. 42 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

6. JAKSIC, F.M., AND C.D. MARTI, 1981. TROPHIC ECOLOGY OF ATHENE OWLS IN MEDITERRANEAN-TYPE ECOSYSTEMS: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS. PAGES 2331-2340 CAN. J. ZOOL. VOL. 59 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

7. PETERSON, R.T. 1980. A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS: A COMPLETELY NEW GUIDE TO ALL THE BIRDS OF EASTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA. 4TH ED. HOUGHTON-MIFFLIN CO., BOSTON, MASS.

8. STONER, E.A. 1932. THE APPROXIMATE LOUSE POPULATION OF A BURROWING OWL. PAGES 230-231. CONDOR. VOL. 34 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

9. COULOMBE, H.N. 1971. BEHAVIOR AND POPULATION ECOLOGY OF THE BURROWING OWL, SPEOTYTO CUNICULARIA, IN THE IMPERIAL VALLEY OF CALIFORNIA. PAGES 162-176 CONDOR. VOL. 73. SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

10. MARTI, C.D. 1974. FEEDING ECOLOGY OF FOUR SYMPATRIC OWLS. PAGES 45-61 CONDOR. SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

11. BENT, A.C. 1938. LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS OF PREY. PART 2. BULL. 170. U.S. NATL. MUS., WASHINGTON, D.C. NUMBER OF PAGES: 482 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

12. LARNER, Y.R. 1972. VIRGINIA'S BIRDLIFE: AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST. VIRGINIA SOCIETY OF ORNITHOLOGY. NUMBER OF PAGES: 117 SOURCE FORM: PAPER.

13. U.S. FISH WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. TITLE 50. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES, CHAPTER 1, PP. 11-18. 50 CFR 10.13. LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS. SPECIAL PUBL. FEDERAL REGISTER. GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN. OCTOBER 1.

14. BOHLEN, H.D. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUS. POP. SCI.SER. VOL. IX. 156 P.

15. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION. 1980. CONSERVATION LAWS. CH. 61. WILDLIFE ART. II. PAR. 2.2. REPRINTED FROM ILLINOIS REVISED STATUTES, 1979. WEST PUBL. CO., ST. PAUL, MN.

 


 

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