Burrowing Owl Artificial Nest Box Project
Current Burrowing Owl Distribution in Arizona
Map Courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department, Non-Game Branch
The Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas Burrowing Owl preliminary data is shown to the left. The owls are still coming to their historical winter homes near Phoenix and other warm winter areas, but the available agricultural areas the birds prefer are rapidly being converted to houses. At the beginning of the 20th century most of the map would have been covered with Burrowing Owl locations. In addition, the size of the colonies would have been large, 50 to 100 birds. With elimination of Prairie Dogs, conversion of desert land to agriculture, and covering of burrows by new land uses, the population of Burrowing Owls began to fall. Today colony sizes are typically less than 10 birds and there are vast areas in Arizona where the birds are no longer found at all. It is important to restore burrow locations all over the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. However, the rate of loss of burrows is highest in the Phoenix area because it is the fastest area of conversion of winter habitat to homes and businesses. As the techniques for artificial burrow installation are determined to be successful (and some seem to be working well) then projects in other areas need to be started to preserve as much winter owl habitat as possible.
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Copyright Greg Clark, 2001