by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"An Atmosphere of Comfort"

Burrowing Owl

        I remember my Mother hanging sheets on the clothesline to dry, and how soft and fluffy they were. There is nothing like the smell of clean sheets. The sheets gave my room an aroma of fresh clean air. If I had more hours in the day, and if I didn’t love my clothes dryer so much, I’d still be hanging wet clothes up to dry.

       There are some birds that really work to create an atmosphere of comfort and safety for their young, just like people. Their way is quite different from humans. One such bird is the Burrowing Owl. This Owl chooses to go under ground for safety and lives in empty Prairie Dog holes, abandoned Badger dens, and even hollow drainage pipes. To make the home liveable, the male picks up pieces of dry cow or horse dung and places it at the entrance. The female then takes this gift and puts it down inside the burrow and the nesting area. This is called a protective odor which hides the scent of the Burrowing Owls from predators, and is also an invitation for tasty little insect critters to stop in for lunch - the Owl’s lunch.

       Burrowing Owls are found in many different habitats in Utah during Spring and Summer. When the food source diminishes, they migrate. Most Owls are night time hunters, but the Burrowing Owl hunts both day and night. Their bright yellow eyes are capable of use both day and night. They are known for being small, long legged, and staying close to their burrow, like a sentinel, watching the world. This wonderful little Owl is losing habitats throughout North and South America. It is endangered in Canada and threatened in the US. If you become a birder, the chances are you will one day encounter the loveable Burrowing Owl.

       Brenda Rusnell is the artist. Her painting is done with color pencils. If you have questions about birds, or the Red Cliffs Audubon General Meeting, Wednesday, December 13, 7:00 p.m. at Tonaquint Nature Center, with bird specialist, Kevin Wheeler speaking on “Identifying Our Local Winter Birds,” call 435 673-0996. Public is welcome.
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