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As in the photos…this is a smaller-sized owl, with long legs. They live in burrows dug by other animals including prairie dogs and desert tortoises.
In my November 9th posting on Project Noah, I indicated that the owls pictured were rescued from construction sites in Arizona, and areas in which their habitat is in danger. At that time, volunteers with Wild at Heart and Audubon were in process of constructing burrows in areas where they are safe and are suitable for their continued survival. The burrows are south of Phoenix in Maricopa, AZ, in an open sandy area in the Sonoran Desert.
Free at last! As of this past weekend, the Burrowing Owls were set free to continue their lives in their new ‘digs’. The first 3 photos are of the ‘detainees' prior to and during release. The 4th and 5th are owls next to their new burrows. Those studying the owls have noted that over the past few years, they are laying fewer eggs (the burrows are being monitored during the breeding season, before release). The area has gone through a several year drought, and that with other factors may be slowing the birth rate. Not all of the owls who are relocated stay in their burrows. Some leave, but wild Burrowing Owls in the area populate the vacated burrows.