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Panorama of a Safari Park field exhibit with giraffes, water buffalo, and rhinos

Burrowing Owl

White rhino with calf

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Burrowing Owl

Owls live in trees, sleep during the day, and come out at night to hunt, right? Not the burrowing owl! It lives in treeless prairies and desert areas of North and South America. The petite, long-legged burrowing owl has an “earthy” lifestyle and prefers to go about its business during the day.

Instead of making its nest in the hollow of a tree, as most owls do, it finds a home in abandoned prairie dog burrows or rattlesnake dens. The owl uses its long legs for further excavating.

Burrowing owls hunt small rodents, frogs, lizards, insects, and snakes. The owls alert each other with a chattering call when alarmed. It sounds like a rattlesnake, causing the owls to duck below ground into the safety of their burrows!

We are working to restore burrowing owl habitat right here in San Diego County. Spot some burrowing owls along the Condor Trail.

Free! Living Legends - San Diego Zoo 100. Help save wildlife in our newest puzzle game.