Burrowing owls, Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado, USA
© Roberta Olenick/Alam
There's a lot about burrowing owls that distinguish them from their wise cousins. Instead of sleeping in trees, they make their homes in the ground, often taking over tunnels abandoned by ground squirrels or prairie dogs. They're also one of the smallest owl species, measuring 19 to 28 centimetres in body length and weighing about 170 grams. Unlike other birds, their method of fending off predators is to make rattling and hissing sounds, as if they were rattlesnakes. And these owls are most active during the daytime, not snoozing as other owls do.
Found in North and South America, the burrowing owl has many neighbours here in the Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado. This birding area is home to the Colorado state bird, the lark bunting, as well as the mountain plover and several birds of prey. It's a perfect home for burrowing owls, which live in grasslands, deserts or other open, dry areas with low vegetation.