Habitat Creation and Restoration
Burrowing Owls may inhabit anthropogenic landscapes such as airport grasslands or golf courses. Site fidelity rates appear to vary among populations. In some locations Owls will frequently reuse a nest several years in a row, however Owls in migratory Northern populations are less likely to do so and as such tend not to return to the same burrow year after year. As a result, new burrows would either need to be constructed or found suitable for occupation. As with many other bird populations the female owls are more likely to disperse to a different site than their male counterparts.
Where the presence of Burrowing Owls conflicts with development interests, a passive relocation technique has been applied successfully. Rather than capturing the birds and forcibly relocating them the Owls are encouraged to relocate on their own accord. The preparations needed for such a relocation process need to begin several months prior to the relocation and prior to the breeding season which typically lasts from February 1 through to September 1. Once relocation site has been chosen, preferably one with established ground squirrel burrows and short vegetation, the new site may be enhanced by the addition of artificial burrows as necessary. Both sites, the old and the relocation site need to be monitored during the transition period. The old site, for the duration of the construction or other disruption that lead to the necessary relocation and the new site to observe the establishment of the new colony.
Burrowing Owls nest either in shallow burrows made by other small animals or underground manmade structures that have easy access to the surface. The female will lay an egg every one or two days until she has a completed clutch which can consist anywhere between four to twelve eggs, though usually consist of no more than nine. The female Owl will then incubate the eggs for three to four weeks while the male brings her the requisite food. After the eggs hatch both parents will feed the chicks. Four weeks after hatching the chicks are able to make short flights and begin leaving the burrow. The parents will continue to assist in feeding the chicks from one to three months. While most of the eggs will hatch only four or five chicks will usually survive.
When walking the paths at Shoreline you may notice some of the ways the Shoreline Owl Specialists have worked to enhance the natural habitats and well as some of the manmade features used to encourage the birds continued use of the site as a habitat. The Shoreline Owl Specialist monitors the habitat continually and maintains the low vegetation so the Owls can remain alert for predators. You may also notice the polycarbonate utility boxes and clay or PVC pipes that have been installed in the manner noted above, and seen in the jpeg above. These are manmade burrows.