Burrowing Owl Artificial Burrow Site At Red Hawk Power Plant (cont'd)

The Red Hawk Burrowing Owl Site

Bob Fox from Wild At Heart is shown removing a Burrowing Owl from a carrier for release inside the tent. Four burrow openings are available to the birds in each tent along with numerous perches. Wild At Heart had previously rescued Burrowing Owls in the way of housing developments near Phoenix, Arizona. The owls are kept at Wild At Heart's rehabilitation facility in Cave Creek, Arizona awaiting release back to the wild. Where possible, burrows can be installed near the new development and the birds released there. Where that is not possible the birds can be released into a tent to build "site fidelity" for the new home. If the owls stay at the site long enough they will become attached to the new site and will not leave when the tent is removed (so long as the conditions are favorable for food and habitat).
Three of the four tents erected at the Red Hawk site. The tents were separated by 100 meters. Each tent enclosed four burrow entrances and between the tents were additional groups of four burrows. One of the important features of this site is to provide a surplus of burrows to allow for choice, and room for colony expansion.
This shows one of the four above-ground burrows with a tent in the background. Note that there is a burrow entrance close to the ground with a perch near the entrance for the sentinel male. Between the mound and the tent are additional burrows.

Here Bob Fox of Wild At Heart places Burrowing Owl eggs inside a burrow. After the eggs are safely inside, the burrow is covered and the female Burrowing Owl is released in the tent at the correct entrance to allow her to resume brooding the eggs. This procedure became necessary when one of the rescued owls began nesting at the rehabilitation facility. The tent was erected over the burrow entrance but the burrow itself was left uncovered. This made it possible to quickly place the eggs, cover the burrow, and reunite the brooding female owl by releasing her into the correct entrance inside the tent.


Here an APS volunteer brings a mouse to a tent. Every morning for a little more than a month, one of the volunteers brought enough mice to each tent to feed all the owls. A feeding station is located just inside the edge of the tent to provide a shaded, clean spot to leave the food and a bowl of water. This way the volunteer does not have to risk entering the tent and possibly allow a bird to sneak out. It is possible to provide the food and water through an opening only big enough for a hand and arm.
Eventually, the tents are removed and the owls can select a burrow of their choice. Here is an owl that decided one of the burrows away from the "tent" burrows was best. The birds will frequent more than one burrow and there is often more than one owl per burrow.
Here one of the owls is perched on one of the "T" perches placed close to a burrow opening. Typically, the sentinel male will be a lookout for predators that pose a threat to the burrow or the colony. This behavior not only benefits the owls, it also benefits ground squirrels and other birds that hear the alarm call and flee to safety.
Bob Fox Holds a Burrowing Owl just before release into a burrow entrance in a tent.


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Copyright Greg Clark, 2001