Athene cunicularia - (Molina, 1782)
Burrowing Owl
Other English Common Names: burrowing owl
Other Common Names: Coruja-Buraqueira
Synonym(s): Speotyto cunicularia
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Athene cunicularia (Molina, 1782) (TSN 177946)
French Common Names: chevêche des terriers
Spanish Common Names: Tecolote Llanero, Lechucita de las Viscacheras
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106553
Element Code: ABNSB10010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 7554

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Strigiformes Strigidae Athene
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Athene cunicularia
Taxonomic Comments: Placed in genus Athene by AOU (1997). Karyotypic studies suggest separate generic status as Speotyto (AOU 1991). Sibley and Monroe (1990) cited DNA-DNA hybridization evidence in asserting that Speotyto cunicularia is not closely related to owls of the genus Athene.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 27Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Widespread distribution in North America; relatively common in appropriate habitat in some areas; trend in North America relatively stable, but habitat alteration and other factors are causing population declines in some areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4B,N4N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1N2B,N1N2M (19Apr2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S2N), Arizona (S3), Arkansas (SNA), California (S3), Colorado (S4B), Florida (S3), Idaho (S2B), Kansas (S3B), Louisiana (S1S2N), Minnesota (S1B,SNRM), Mississippi (S1N), Missouri (SX), Montana (S3B), Navajo Nation (S3S4B), Nebraska (S3), Nevada (S3B), New Mexico (S4B,S4N), North Dakota (SU), Oklahoma (S2), Oregon (S3B), South Dakota (S3S4B), Texas (S3B), Utah (S3B), Washington (S2B), Wyoming (S4B)
Canada Alberta (S2B), British Columbia (S1B), Manitoba (S1B), Saskatchewan (S2B)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (28Apr2017)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: This grassland owl has suffered ongoing large declines across much of its North American range. The Canadian population was reduced by 90% from 1990 to 2000, and by a further 64% between 2005 and 2015. Most of the remaining individuals are in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. In recent years small numbers have been counted in British Columbia and Manitoba due largely to captive breeding and release programs.  The loss of grassland habitat and suitable burrows has been compounded by a reduction in prey populations, and concurrent increases in predation, vehicle collisions, expansion of renewable energy, and severe weather events.

Status history: Designated Threatened in April 1979. Status re?examined and confirmed in April 1991. Status re?examined and designated Endangered in April 1995. Status re?examined and confirmed in May 2000, April 2006, and April 2017.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 8000 to >1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range extends from southern interior British Columbia (nearly extirpated), southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwestern and south-central Manitoba south through the western United States, central Mexico, central and southern Florida, and the West Indies, and breeding also occurs locally in much of South America (Haug et al. 1993, AOU 1998). During the northern winter, the species withdraws from the northernmost portions of the breeding range in North America. Wintering occurs regularly southward to El Salvador, casually or accidentally to western Panama (AOU 1998). California, New Mexico, and Arizona are important wintering areas in the United States (James and Ethier 1989).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: An estimate. This species nests somewhat colonially, which makes occupany estimates more difficult. Poulin, et. al. (2011) noted an average home range size of 2.41 square kilometers for males. Assuming a population of about 3 million owls globally, the area of occupany should easily exceed 20,000 square kilometers.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of distinct breeding occurrences (subpopulations) has not been determined using standardized criteria, but this owl nests in a large number of locations across a wide range..

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Rich et al. (2004) estimated the global population at 2,000,000, with 31 percent of those in the United States and Canada (fewer than 2,000 pairs in Canada).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: An estimate. This species is protected to some degree in various national, state, and provincial preserves.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Primary threat is habitat loss (e.g., due to intensive agriculture), habitat degradation (e.g., via control of burrowing mammals), and habitat fragmentation (Dundas and Jensen 1995). In the West, eradication of prairie dogs has reduced owl populations (Evans 1982), as has conversion of rangeland to irrigated agricultural land and, in some areas, loss of habitat to suburbanization. Other threats include excessive mortality due to predation (e.g., dogs cats, and food-subsidized populations of native predators), contaminants, and unknown factors (Haug and Didiuk 1991; see also 1979 COSEWIC report by Wedgwood and 1995 COSEWIC report by Wellicome and Haug).

Burrowing owl declines in Washington (based on Breeding Bird Survey data for 1968-2005) are probably due to loss of native grassland and shrub-steppe and eradication of burrowing mammals such as ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.), yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris), and American badgers (Taxidea taxus) (Conway and Pardieck 2006).

On Santa Barbara Island, California, heavy predation by barn owls during a time of small mammal scarcity resulted in extirpation of the fall-winter resident population of burrowing owls (Drost and McCluskey, Oecologia 92:301).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for North America indicate a relatively stable or increasing trend for the period 1999-2009 (average increase of 1.6% per year). This trend characterized the global trend and the trend in the United States. Abundance was highest in the shortgrass prairie region, where the increase averaged 2.3% per years in 1999-2009. In Canada, BBS data indicate a decline averaging 7.6% per year for the period 1999-2009.

Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data for the United States indicate a tendency toward increased numbers of owls per party-hour since 2000 (compared to the 1980s and 1990s).

Declined in Canada from the mid-1970s through at least the early 1990s (Kirk et al. 1995); declined 50% or more in some areas (Dundas and Jensen 1995). Loss of habitat was substantial between 1976 and 1986, has slowed considerably since then, but declines have continued; if present trends continue, extirpation from Manitoba will occur within a few years and extirpation from all of Canada may occur within a few decades (Wellicome and Haug, 1995 COSEWIC report).

In Texas, no significant changes were found in the mean number of burrowing owls during the breeding season for the period 1966-1999, although the trend was downward (McIntyre 2004). A statistically significant decline in overwintering owls (particularly since the 1970s) in Texas through 2001 (McIntyre 2004) mirrored a pattern seen in California (Sheffield 1997). Texas represents the area of highest abundance of overwintering burrowing owls in the United States, so the decline in winter owl abundance is of concern (McIntyre 2004). However, winter abundance in Texas apparently increased somewhat in Texas subsequent to 2001, in accorance with the national trend (CBC data).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >30%
Long-term Trend Comments: Over the long term, Breeding Bird Survey data indicate a decline from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, then a relatively stable trend. A very large decline undoubtedly occurred before the BBS was initiated in the 1960s. Christmas Bird Count data indicate a relatively stable North American population since the mid-1950s. Accordimg tp Poulin, et. al. (2011), there has been a sharp decline across much of the species' range in North America during the last half century. The owl is listed in half of the 18 states in which the owl still occurs.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: This species is tolerant of human activities but its usage of burrows make its nesting habits a problem for ranchers grazing cattle. Alos, its use of grasslands and similar type agriculltural areas make it susceptible to herbicide and pesticide usage. Such chemicals reduce reproductive success of this owl (Poulin, et. al. 2011).

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Its breeding habitat of open, treeless areas such as grassland, steppe, and desert biomes can be areas that are ripe for human activities (e.g., housing, industry, solar panel farms).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Determine population abundance and distribution.

Protection Needs: Protect large areas with ample populations of burrowing mammals such as prairie dogs or ground squirrels.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 8000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends from southern interior British Columbia (nearly extirpated), southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwestern and south-central Manitoba south through the western United States, central Mexico, central and southern Florida, and the West Indies, and breeding also occurs locally in much of South America (Haug et al. 1993, AOU 1998). During the northern winter, the species withdraws from the northernmost portions of the breeding range in North America. Wintering occurs regularly southward to El Salvador, casually or accidentally to western Panama (AOU 1998). California, New Mexico, and Arizona are important wintering areas in the United States (James and Ethier 1989).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, KS, LA, MN, MOextirpated, MS, MT, ND, NE, NM, NN, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; NatureServe, 2004; WILDSPACETM 2002; WWF-US, 2000


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Apache (04001), Cochise (04003), Coconino (04005), Graham (04009)*, La Paz (04012), Maricopa (04013), Mohave (04015), Navajo (04017), Pima (04019), Pinal (04021), Santa Cruz (04023), Yavapai (04025), Yuma (04027)
CA Alameda (06001), Butte (06007), Colusa (06011), Contra Costa (06013), Fresno (06019), Glenn (06021), Imperial (06025), Inyo (06027), Kern (06029), Kings (06031), Lassen (06035), Los Angeles (06037), Madera (06039), Marin (06041), Merced (06047), Monterey (06053), Napa (06055), Orange (06059), Placer (06061), Riverside (06065), Sacramento (06067), San Benito (06069), San Bernardino (06071), San Diego (06073), San Joaquin (06077), San Luis Obispo (06079), San Mateo (06081), Santa Barbara (06083), Santa Clara (06085), Santa Cruz (06087), Solano (06095), Sonoma (06097), Stanislaus (06099), Sutter (06101), Tehama (06103), Tulare (06107), Tuolumne (06109), Ventura (06111), Yolo (06113), Yuba (06115)*
FL Alachua (12001), Brevard (12009), Broward (12011), Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Collier (12021), Duval (12031)*, Gilchrist (12041), Glades (12043), Hernando (12053), Highlands (12055), Indian River (12061), Lafayette (12067), Lake (12069), Lee (12071), Levy (12075), Madison (12079), Manatee (12081), Marion (12083), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Okaloosa (12091), Okeechobee (12093), Orange (12095), Osceola (12097), Palm Beach (12099), Pasco (12101), Polk (12105), St. Lucie (12111), Sumter (12119), Suwannee (12121), Walton (12131)
ID Ada (16001), Bannock (16005), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Butte (16023), Canyon (16027), Caribou (16029), Cassia (16031), Clark (16033), Custer (16037), Elmore (16039), Gooding (16047), Jefferson (16051), Jerome (16053), Lincoln (16063), Oneida (16071), Owyhee (16073), Payette (16075), Power (16077), Teton (16081), Twin Falls (16083), Washington (16087)
KS Barton (20009), Chase (20017), Cheyenne (20023), Grant (20067), Hamilton (20075), Logan (20109), Meade (20119), Morton (20129), Rawlins (20153), Scott (20171), Sherman (20181), Stanton (20187), Stevens (20189), Wallace (20199), Wichita (20203)
MN Big Stone (27011)*, Chippewa (27023)*, Clay (27027), Cottonwood (27033)*, Lac Qui Parle (27073), Lyon (27083)*, Mahnomen (27087)*, Martin (27091)*, Murray (27101), Norman (27107), Pipestone (27117), Polk (27119), Rock (27133), Roseau (27135), Stevens (27149), Swift (27151)*, Traverse (27155), Watonwan (27165), Yellow Medicine (27173)
MS Adams (28001), Rankin (28121)*
MT Beaverhead (30001), Big Horn (30003), Blaine (30005), Broadwater (30007), Carbon (30009), Carter (30011), Cascade (30013), Chouteau (30015), Custer (30017), Dawson (30021), Fallon (30025), Fergus (30027), Gallatin (30031), Garfield (30033), Golden Valley (30037), Hill (30041), Jefferson (30043), Lewis and Clark (30049), Liberty (30051), Madison (30057), McCone (30055), Musselshell (30065), Petroleum (30069), Phillips (30071), Pondera (30073), Powder River (30075), Prairie (30079), Roosevelt (30085), Rosebud (30087), Sheridan (30091), Stillwater (30095), Teton (30099), Toole (30101), Treasure (30103), Valley (30105), Wheatland (30107), Yellowstone (30111)
ND Billings (38007), Bottineau (38009), Dunn (38025)*, McHenry (38049), McKenzie (38053), Mercer (38057)*, Sioux (38085)
NE Banner (31007), Box Butte (31013), Cherry (31031), Cheyenne (31033), Clay (31035), Dawes (31045), Deuel (31049), Garden (31069), Hitchcock (31087), Keith (31101), Kimball (31105), Lincoln (31111), Loup (31115), Morrill (31123), Perkins (31135), Scotts Bluff (31157), Sheridan (31161), Sioux (31165)
NM Bernalillo (35001), Catron (35003), Chaves (35005), Cibola (35006), Colfax (35007), Curry (35009), Dona Ana (35013), Eddy (35015), Guadalupe (35019), Harding (35021), Hidalgo (35023), Lea (35025), Lincoln (35027), Luna (35029), Mckinley (35031), Otero (35035), Quay (35037), Rio Arriba (35039), Roosevelt (35041), San Juan (35045), San Miguel (35047), Sandoval (35043), Santa Fe (35049), Sierra (35051), Socorro (35053), Taos (35055), Torrance (35057), Union (35059), Valencia (35061)
NV Clark (32003), Elko (32007), Eureka (32011), Humboldt (32013), Lander (32015), Pershing (32027), Washoe (32031), White Pine (32033)
OK Beaver (40007), Blaine (40011), Caddo (40015), Canadian (40017), Cimarron (40025), Comanche (40031), Cotton (40033), Dewey (40043), Ellis (40045), Grant (40053), Greer (40055), Harmon (40057), Harper (40059), Jackson (40065), Jefferson (40067), Kiowa (40075), Roger Mills (40129), Stephens (40137), Texas (40139)
OR Crook (41013), Deschutes (41017)*, Gilliam (41021), Harney (41025), Lake (41037), Malheur (41045), Morrow (41049), Umatilla (41059), Wallowa (41063)*
SD Bennett (46007), Buffalo (46017), Butte (46019), Campbell (46021), Corson (46031), Custer (46033), Deuel (46039), Dewey (46041), Fall River (46047), Haakon (46055), Hamlin (46057), Hand (46059), Harding (46063), Hughes (46065), Hyde (46069), Jackson (46071), Jones (46075), Lyman (46085), McPherson (46089), Meade (46093), Mellette (46095), Minnehaha (46099), Pennington (46103), Perkins (46105), Potter (46107), Shannon (46113), Spink (46115), Stanley (46117), Sully (46119), Todd (46121), Tripp (46123), Ziebach (46137)
TX Bailey (48017), Brewster (48043), El Paso (48141), Hutchinson (48233), Lubbock (48303), Moore (48341), Randall (48381), Taylor (48441)
UT Beaver (49001), Box Elder (49003), Cache (49005)*, Carbon (49007), Davis (49011), Duchesne (49013), Emery (49015), Garfield (49017), Grand (49019), Iron (49021), Juab (49023), Kane (49025)*, Millard (49027), Rich (49033), Salt Lake (49035), San Juan (49037), Sevier (49041)*, Tooele (49045), Uintah (49047), Utah (49049), Washington (49053), Wayne (49055), Weber (49057)*
WA Adams (53001)+, Benton (53005)+, Columbia (53013)+, Douglas (53017)+, Franklin (53021)+, Garfield (53023)+, Grant (53025)+, Kittitas (53037)+, Klickitat (53039)+, Lincoln (53043)+, Okanogan (53047)+, Spokane (53063)+, Walla Walla (53071)+, Whitman (53075)+, Yakima (53077)+
WY Albany (56001), Big Horn (56003), Campbell (56005), Carbon (56007), Converse (56009), Fremont (56013), Goshen (56015), Hot Springs (56017), Johnson (56019), Laramie (56021), Lincoln (56023), Natrona (56025), Niobrara (56027), Park (56029), Platte (56031), Sheridan (56033), Sublette (56035), Sweetwater (56037), Teton (56039), Uinta (56041), Washakie (56043), Weston (56045)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+*, Vero Beach (03080203)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Northern Okeechobee Inflow (03090102)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Lake Okeechobee (03090201)+, Everglades (03090202)+, Florida Bay-Florida Keys (03090203)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Peace (03100101)+, Myakka (03100102)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Sarasota Bay (03100201)+, Manatee (03100202)+, Hillsborough (03100205)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, withlacoochee (03110203)+, Lower Suwannee (03110205)+, Santa Fe (03110206)+, Choctawhatchee Bay (03140102)+, Yellow (03140103)+, Middle Pearl-Strong (03180002)+*
07 Upper Minnesota (07020001)+, Pomme De Terre (07020002)+*, Lac Qui Parle (07020003)+, Hawk-Yellow Medicine (07020004)+*, Chippewa (07020005)+, Redwood (07020006)+*, Middle Minnesota (07020007)+*, Cottonwood (07020008)+*, Blue Earth (07020009)+*, Watonwan (07020010)+, Des Moines Headwaters (07100001)+
08 Homochitto (08060205)+
09 Lower Souris (09010003)+, Deep (09010005)+, Mustinka (09020102)+, Upper Red (09020104)+, Buffalo (09020106)+, Eastern Wild Rice (09020108)+*, Sandhill-Wilson (09020301)+, Red Lake (09020303)+, Two Rivers (09020312)+
10 Beaverhead (10020002)+, Big Hole (10020004)+, Jefferson (10020005)+, Madison (10020007)+, Upper Missouri (10030101)+, Upper Missouri-Dearborn (10030102)+, Sun (10030104)+, Marias (10030203)+, Willow (10030204)+, Teton (10030205)+, Bullwhacker-Dog (10040101)+, Arrow (10040102)+, Judith (10040103)+, Fort Peck Reservoir (10040104)+, Big Dry (10040105)+, Upper Musselshell (10040201)+, Middle Musselshell (10040202)+, Flatwillow (10040203)+, Box Elder (10040204)+, Lower Musselshell (10040205)+, Upper Milk (10050002)+, Wild Horse Lake (10050003)+, Middle Milk (10050004)+, Big Sandy (10050005)+, Sage (10050006)+, Lodge (10050007)+, Battle (10050008)+, Peoples (10050009)+, Cottonwood (10050010)+, Lower Milk (10050012)+, Frenchman (10050013)+, Beaver (10050014)+, Rock (10050015)+, Prarie Elk-Wolf (10060001)+, Redwater (10060002)+, Big Muddy (10060006)+, Brush Lake closed basin (10060007)+, Upper Yellowstone-Lake Basin (10070004)+, Clarks Fork Yellowstone (10070006)+, Upper Yellowstone-Pompeys Pillar (10070007)+, Pryor (10070008)+, Upper Wind (10080001)+, Little Wind (10080002)+, Popo Agie (10080003)+, Muskrat (10080004)+, Lower Wind (10080005)+, Badwater (10080006)+, Upper Bighorn (10080007)+, Nowood (10080008)+, Big Horn Lake (10080010)+, Dry (10080011)+, Shoshone (10080014)+, Upper Tongue (10090101)+, Lower Tongue (10090102)+, Upper Powder (10090202)+, South Fork Powder (10090203)+, Salt (10090204)+, Crazy Woman (10090205)+, Clear (10090206)+, Middle Powder (10090207)+, Little Powder (10090208)+, Lower Powder (10090209)+, Lower Yellowstone-Sunday (10100001)+, Big Porcupine (10100002)+, Rosebud (10100003)+, Lower Yellowstone (10100004)+, O'fallon (10100005)+, Upper Little Missouri (10110201)+, Middle Little Missouri (10110203)+, Lower Little Missouri (10110205)+, Antelope (10120101)+, Upper Cheyenne (10120103)+, Lance (10120104)+, Lightning (10120105)+, Angostura Reservoir (10120106)+, Beaver (10120107)+, Hat (10120108)+, Middle Cheyenne-Spring (10120109)+, Middle Cheyenne-Elk (10120111)+, Lower Cheyenne (10120112)+, Cherry (10120113)+, Upper Belle Fourche (10120201)+, Lower Belle Fourche (10120202)+, Upper Lake Oahe (10130102)+, Lower Lake Oahe (10130105)+, West Missouri Coteau (10130106)+, Knife (10130201)+*, Upper Heart (10130202)+, Lower Cannonball (10130206)+, North Fork Grand (10130301)+, South Fork Grand (10130302)+, Grand (10130303)+, South Fork Moreau (10130304)+, Upper Moreau (10130305)+, Lower Moreau (10130306)+, Fort Randall Reservoir (10140101)+, Bad (10140102)+, Medicine Knoll (10140103)+, Medicine (10140104)+, Crow (10140105)+, Upper White (10140201)+, Middle White (10140202)+, Little White (10140203)+, Lower White (10140204)+, Niobrara Headwaters (10150002)+, Upper Niobrara (10150003)+, Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Snake (10150005)+, Keya Paha (10150006)+, Middle James (10160006)+, Turtle (10160009)+, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+, Upper Big Sioux (10170202)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+, Rock (10170204)+, Upper North Platte (10180002)+, Pathfinder-Seminoe Reservoirs (10180003)+, Medicine Bow (10180004)+, Little Medicine Bow (10180005)+, Sweetwater (10180006)+, Middle North Platte-Casper (10180007)+, Glendo Reservoir (10180008)+, Middle North Platte-Scotts Bluff (10180009)+, Upper Laramie (10180010)+, Lower Laramie (10180011)+, Horse (10180012)+, Pumpkin (10180013)+, Lower North Platte (10180014)+, Crow (10190009)+, Middle South Platte-Sterling (10190012)+, Upper Lodgepole (10190015)+, Lower Lodgepole (10190016)+, Sidney Draw (10190017)+, Lower South Platte (10190018)+, Lower Middle Loup (10210003)+, Calamus (10210008)+, South Fork Republican (10250003)+, Upper Republican (10250004)+, Frenchman (10250005)+, Stinking Water (10250006)+, South Fork Beaver (10250012)+, Smoky Hill Headwaters (10260001)+, Upper Smoky Hill (10260003)+, Ladder (10260004)+, West Fork Big Blue (10270203)+
11 Middle Arkansas-Lake Mckinney (11030001)+, Whitewoman (11030002)+, Coon-Pickerel (11030004)+, Upper Walnut Creek (11030007)+, Upper Cimarron (11040002)+, North Fork Cimarron (11040003)+, Sand Arroyo (11040004)+, Bear (11040005)+, Upper Cimarron-Liberal (11040006)+, Crooked (11040007)+, Upper Cimarron-Bluff (11040008)+, Lower Cimarron-Eagle Chief (11050001)+, Lower Cimarron-Skeleton (11050002)+, Lower Salt Fork Arkansas (11060004)+, Lower Cottonwood (11070203)+, Canadian headwaters (11080001)+, Conchas (11080005)+, Ute (11080007)+, Revuelto (11080008)+, Middle Canadian-Trujillo (11090101)+, Punta De Agua (11090102)+, Rita Blanca (11090103)+, Carrizo (11090104)+, Lower Canadian-Deer (11090201)+, Upper Beaver (11100101)+, Middle Beaver (11100102)+, Coldwater (11100103)+, Palo Duro (11100104)+, Lower Beaver (11100201)+, Lower Wolf (11100203)+, Middle North Canadian (11100301)+, Tierra Blanca (11120101)+, Palo Duro (11120102)+, Lower Salt Fork Red (11120202)+, Middle North Fork Red (11120302)+, Lower North Fork Red (11120303)+, Elm Fork Red (11120304)+, Groesbeck-Sandy (11130101)+, Farmers-Mud (11130201)+, Cache (11130202)+, West Cache (11130203)+, Northern Beaver (11130208)+, Upper Washita (11130302)+
12 Yellow House Draw (12050001)+, Blackwater Draw (12050002)+, Running Water Draw (12050005)+, Upper Clear Fork Brazos (12060102)+, Lost Draw (12080001)+, Mustang Draw (12080004)+, Sulphur Springs Draw (12080006)+
13 Upper Rio Grande (13020101)+, Rio Grande-Santa Fe (13020201)+, Rio Grande-Albuquerque (13020203)+, Rio Puerco (13020204)+, North Plains (13020206)+, Rio San Jose (13020207)+, Plains of San Agustin (13020208)+, Rio Salado (13020209)+, Jornada Del Muerto (13020210)+, Elephant Butte Reservoir (13020211)+, Caballo (13030101)+, El Paso-Las Cruces (13030102)+, Jornada Draw (13030103)+, Mimbres (13030202)+, Rio Grande-Fort Quitman (13040100)+, Santiago Draw (13040207)+, Western Estancia (13050001)+, Tularosa Valley (13050003)+, Salt Basin (13050004)+, Pecos headwaters (13060001)+, Pintada Arroyo (13060002)+, Upper Pecos (13060003)+, Taiban (13060004)+, Arroyo Del Macho (13060005)+, Upper Pecos-Long Arroyo (13060007)+, Rio Hondo (13060008)+, Upper Pecos-Black (13060011)+, Delaware (13070002)+, Landreth-Monument Draws (13070007)+
14 Westwater Canyon (14030001)+, Upper Colorado-Kane Springs (14030005)+, Upper Green (14040101)+, New Fork (14040102)+, Upper Green-Slate (14040103)+, Big Sandy (14040104)+, Bitter (14040105)+, Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir (14040106)+, Blacks Fork (14040107)+, Muddy (14040108)+, Vermilion (14040109)+, Great Divide closed basin (14040200)+, Little Snake (14050003)+, Muddy (14050004)+, Lower White (14050007)+, Lower Green-Diamond (14060001)+, Ashley-Brush (14060002)+, Duchesne (14060003)+, Lower Green-Desolation Canyon (14060005)+, Price (14060007)+, Lower Green (14060008)+, San Rafael (14060009)+, Fremont (14070003)+, Escalante (14070005)+*, Lower Lake Powell (14070006)+*, Paria (14070007)+*, Upper San Juan (14080101)+, Blanco Canyon (14080103)+, Middle San Juan (14080105)+, Chaco (14080106)+, Lower San Juan-Four Corners (14080201)+, Mcelmo (14080202)+, Chinle (14080204)+
15 Lower Colorado-Marble Canyon (15010001)+, Kanab (15010003)+*, Havasu Canyon (15010004)+, Hualapai Wash (15010007)+, Upper Virgin (15010008)+, Fort Pierce Wash (15010009)+, Lower Virgin (15010010)+, Detrital Wash (15010014)+, Las Vegas Wash (15010015)+, Little Colorado headwaters (15020001)+, Upper Little Colorado (15020002)+, Upper Puerco (15020006)+, Middle Little Colorado (15020008)+, Cottonwood Wash (15020011)+, Jadito Wash (15020014)+, Havasu-Mohave Lakes (15030101)+, Sacramento Wash (15030103)+*, Imperial Reservoir (15030104)+, Lower Colorado (15030107)+, Yuma Desert (15030108)+, Burro (15030202)+, Animas Valley (15040003)+, San Simon (15040006)+*, Middle Gila (15050100)+, Willcox Playa (15050201)+, Upper Santa Cruz (15050301)+, Rillito (15050302)+, Lower Santa Cruz (15050303)+, Brawley Wash (15050304)+, Santa Rosa Wash (15050306)+, Lower Salt (15060106)+, Big Chino-Williamson Valley (15060201)+, Lower Gila-Painted Rock Reservoir (15070101)+, Agua Fria (15070102)+, Hassayampa (15070103)+, Lower Gila (15070201)+, Tenmile Wash (15070202)+, San Cristobal Wash (15070203)+, Cloverdale (15080303)+
16 Upper Bear (16010101)+, Central Bear (16010102)+, Middle Bear (16010202)+*, Little Bear-Logan (16010203)+*, Lower Bear-Malad (16010204)+, Lower Weber (16020102)+*, Utah Lake (16020201)+, Jordan (16020204)+, Hamlin-Snake Valleys (16020301)+, Pine Valley (16020302)+, Tule Valley (16020303)+, Rush-Tooele Valleys (16020304)+, Skull Valley (16020305)+, Southern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020306)+, Northern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020308)+, Curlew Valley (16020309)+, Great Salt Lake (16020310)+, Upper Sevier (16030001)+, Middle Sevier (16030003)+*, Lower Sevier (16030005)+, Escalante Desert (16030006)+, Beaver Bottoms-Upper Beaver (16030007)+, Lower Beaver (16030008)+, Sevier Lake (16030009)+, Upper Humboldt (16040101)+, Middle Humboldt (16040105)+, Upper Quinn (16040201)+, Pyramid-Winnemucca Lakes (16050103)+, Granite Springs Valley (16050104)+, Ivanpah-Pahrump Valleys (16060015)+
17 Hangman (17010306), Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (17020001), Chief Joseph (17020005), Okanogan (17020006), Methow (17020008), Upper Columbia-Entiat (17020010), Moses Coulee (17020012), Upper Crab (17020013), Banks Lake (17020014), Lower Crab (17020015), Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids (17020016), Upper Yakima (17030001), Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003), Snake headwaters (17040101)+, Gros Ventre (17040102)+, Greys-Hobock (17040103)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Teton (17040204)+, American Falls (17040206)+, Portneuf (17040208)+, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Raft (17040210)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Salmon Falls (17040213)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Medicine Lodge (17040215)+, Big Lost (17040218)+, Big Wood (17040219)+, C. J. Idaho (17050101)+, Bruneau (17050102)+, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+, Upper Owyhee (17050104)+, South Fork Owyhee (17050105)+, Middle Owyhee (17050107)+, Jordan (17050108)+, Crooked-Rattlesnake (17050109)+, Lower Owyhee (17050110)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Middle Snake-Payette (17050115)+, Upper Malheur (17050116)+, Lower Malheur (17050117)+, Bully (17050118)+, Willow (17050119)+, Payette (17050122)+, Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+, Imnaha (17060102)+*, Lower Snake-Tucannon (17060107), Palouse (17060108), Rock (17060109), Lower Snake (17060110), Pahsimeroi (17060202)+, Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula (17070101)+, Walla Walla (17070102), Umatilla (17070103)+, Willow (17070104)+, Beaver-South Fork (17070303)+, Lower Crooked (17070305)+*, Harney-Malheur Lakes (17120001)+, Silvies (17120002)+, Silver (17120004)+, Summer Lake (17120005)+, Lake Abert (17120006)+, Warner Lakes (17120007)+, Alvord Lake (17120009)+
18 Gualala-Salmon (18010109)+, Russian (18010110)+, Sacramento-Stone Corral (18020104)+, Lower American (18020111)+, Upper Cache (18020116)+, Upper Yuba (18020125)+*, Upper Bear (18020126)+, Paynes Creek-Sacramento River (18020155)+, Thomes Creek-Sacramento River (18020156)+, Big Chico Creek-Sacramento River (18020157)+, Butte Creek (18020158)+, Honcut Headwaters-Lower Feather (18020159)+, Upper Coon-Upper Auburn (18020161)+, Upper Putah (18020162)+, Lower Sacramento (18020163)+, South Fork Kern (18030002)+*, Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi- (18030003)+, Upper Poso (18030004)+, Upper Deer-Upper White (18030005)+, Upper Kaweah (18030007)+, Upper Dry (18030009)+, Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes (18030012)+, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040001)+, Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040002)+, San Joaquin Delta (18040003)+, Upper Chowchilla-Upper Fresno (18040007)+*, Upper Merced (18040008)+, Upper Tuolumne (18040009)+, Upper Stanislaus (18040010)+, Upper Mokelumne (18040012)+, Upper Cosumnes (18040013)+, Panoche-San Luis Reservoir (18040014)+, Rock Creek-French Camp Slough (18040051)+, Suisun Bay (18050001)+, San Pablo Bay (18050002)+, Coyote (18050003)+, San Francisco Bay (18050004)+, Tomales-Drake Bays (18050005)+, San Lorenzo-Soquel (18060001)+, Pajaro (18060002)+, Carrizo Plain (18060003)+, Estrella (18060004)+, Salinas (18060005)+, Central Coastal (18060006)+, Santa Maria (18060008)+, Alisal-Elkhorn Sloughs (18060011)+, Carmel (18060012)+, Ventura (18070101)+, Santa Clara (18070102)+, Calleguas (18070103)+, Santa Monica Bay (18070104)+, Los Angeles (18070105)+, San Gabriel (18070106)+, Seal Beach (18070201)+, San Jacinto (18070202)+, Santa Ana (18070203)+, Newport Bay (18070204)+, Aliso-San Onofre (18070301)+, Santa Margarita (18070302)+, San Luis Rey-Escondido (18070303)+*, San Diego (18070304)+, Cottonwood-Tijuana (18070305)+, Honey-Eagle Lakes (18080003)+, Crowley Lake (18090102)+*, Eureka-Saline Valleys (18090201)+, Death Valley-Lower Amargosa (18090203)+*, Panamint Valley (18090204)+*, Indian Wells-Searles Valleys (18090205)+, Antelope-Fremont Valleys (18090206)+, Coyote-Cuddeback Lakes (18090207)+, Mojave (18090208)+, Southern Mojave (18100100)+, Whitewater River (18100201)+, Carrizo Creek (18100202)+, San Felipe Creek (18100203)+, Salton Sea (18100204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small, long-legged owl.
General Description: This is a small, ground-dwelling owl with long legs, white chin stripe, round head, and stubby tail; adults are boldly spotted and barred with brown and white; juveniles are buffy below; average length 24 cm (NGS 1983, Peterson 1990).
Diagnostic Characteristics: No other small owl has such long legs or perches habitually on the ground in open situations. Much smaller than the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), length 24 cm vs. 38 cm, which also has relatively shorter legs.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size averages 6-7. Incubation, by female, lasts 27-30 days. Male provides food during incubation and early nestling stages. Young run and forage at 4 weeks, and attain sustained flight at 6 weeks. Nesting efforts average 3-5 fledglings per brood. Individuals first breed at 1 year (some may not) and generally produce 1 brood/year (double brooding documented in Florida).
Ecology Comments: Reported densities: 8 pairs/sq km (California), 3.5-6 ha per pair in North Dakota, 13-16 ha/pair in Saskatchewan.

Territory defense mainly limited to immediate vicinity of nest burrow; individuals may share a common foraging area.

Badgers play an important role in burrowing owl nesting ecology in northern Oregon; they provide nest burrows and are a major predator (Green and Anthony 1989).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Burrowing owls are migratory in the northern portion of the range (though some birds may overwinter in north). Some U.S./Canadian breeders winter in Mexico and possibly in Central America (James and Ethier 1989). Canadian breeders are believed to winter south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants arrive in the northern breeding range in April-May. The Florida population apparently is sedentary, as is the breeding population in southern California.

Home range in Saskatchewan: 0.14-4.81 sq km; 95% of all movements within 600 m of nest burrow (Haug and Oliphant 1990). Significantly smaller home ranges were reported in Saskatchewan (0.08-0.49, average 0.35 square kilometers) during period of small mammal superabundance (Sissons et al. 1998, Wellicome 1998). Dispersing young use satellite burrows in the vicinity of their natal burrows for about two months after hatching before departing the natal area (King and Belthoff 2001).

Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes open grasslands, especially prairie, plains, and savanna, sometimes other open areas such as vacant lots near human habitation or airports. This owl spends much time on the ground or on low perches such as fence posts or dirt mounds.

Nests are in abandoned burrows, such as those dug by prairie dogs, ground squirrels, foxes, woodchucks, or (in Florida) gopher tortoises, and including badger excavations (see especially Green and Anthony 1989). In Colorado and Okalhoma, burrowing owls are highly associated with and most numerous in prairie dog colonies (Smith and Lomolino 2004, Tipton et al. 2009). Owls may enlarge or modify exisitng burrows. In Florida, burrowing owls may dig their own burrow. Nesting occurs in lava cavities in some areas. See Cavanagh (1990) for an account of unsuccessful above-ground nesting on a lawn at an airport in Florida.

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Diet includes primarily large insects (especially in warmer months) and rodents, sometimes birds and amphibians. In the Dominican Republic, prey composition by number of items was 53.3% invertebrates, 28.3% birds, 14.9% reptiles, 2.5% amphibians, and 1.0% mammals (Wiley 1998).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Activity is primarily nocturnal in winter in the north, diurnal and crepuscular in summer; burrowing owls usually can be observed in daytime in Florida and in the southern part of the winter range (Evans 1982). In Saskatchewan, peak foraging activity occurred between 2030 and 0630 h (Haug and Oliphant 1990).
Length: 24 centimeters
Weight: 159 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Artificial nest burrows have been used successfully (Collins and Landry 1977).

May benefit from periodic burning of desert grasslands (see Dodd 1988).

See Harris and Feeney (1990) for information on the successful relocation of owls from a construction site to an enhanced site on an unused portion of a municipal golf course in central California. However, site fidelity may interfere with translocation efforts (see J. Raptor Research, vol. 27).

See Dechant et al. (2003) for effects of grassland management practices on burrowing owls. See Green and Anthony (J. Raptor Research, vol. 27) for a discussion of management in the Columbia Basin.

Human activity in nesting areas should be restricted or prohibited during the incubation period.

Biological Research Needs: Organized, long-term population monitoring should be considered a high-priority research need across much of the species' range (Poulin, et. al. 2011). Usage of satellite transmitter would allow scientists to answer questions about the movement and survival pattern of these unpredictable birds.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Small and Medium Owls

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Nest site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is not intended to delineate demographically independent populations or metapopulations (such units would be quite large) but rather serves to circumscribe breeding occurrences that are of practical size for conservation/management use.

Separation distance is larger than three times the diameter of an average home range for these volant species; based the diameter of larger home ranges of males, e.g. those of Northern Pygmy-Owls given below.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl: post-fledging families used 9.3 to about 60 hectares until the young dispersed (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000).

Northern Pygmy-Owl: territory in Colorado estimated to be about 75 hectares (Rashid 1999, cited in Holt and Petersen 2000); home ranges of breeding males in Washington 170-230 hectares (A. Giese, pers. comm., cited in Holt and Petersen 2000); home ranges of males in Sweden averaged 231 hectares (Kullberg 1995).

Northern Saw-whet Owl: Two breeding males had home ranges of 142 and 159 hectares (Cannings 1987). Most breeding habitat probably supports a maximum of about 1 pair/square kilometer, often much less (Cannings 1993); singing males can be as close as about 250 meters apart (Swengel 1990).

Elf Owl: home ranges smaller, range 0.2-2.6, mean 1.0 hectares (Gamel 1997).

Flammulated Owl males had mean home ranges of about 14 hectares in Colorado (Linkhart 1984) and about 16 hectares in Oregon (during the incubation period; Goggans 1986). DNA data indicate very low differentiation among populations in different mountain ranges in New Mexico and Utah; evidently the species exhibits long-distance natal dispersal and frequent intermountain dispersal (Arsenault et al. 2005).

Whiskered Screech-Owls had home ranges about 1550 meters long, along permanent creek (Gehlbach and Gehlbach 2000).

Burrowing Owl: In Saskatchewan, the average home range was about 1.2 kilometers in diameter (Haug and Oliphant 1990).

Long-eared Owl: In Wyoming, breeding home range in riparian habitat varied from 34-106 hectares and averaged 51 hectares (Craighead and Craighead 1956).

Short-eared Owl: Breeding territories average 64 -74 hectares (Holt 1992, Clark 1975).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .6 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Conservatively based on an average home range of 27 hectares for a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl family (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). A breeding male Northern Saw-whet Owl spent most of its active time in a core area of only 27 hectares (Cannings 1987).

Long-eared Owl: May use an IE of 0.8 km, which is the diameter of an average home range (Craighead and Craighead 1956).

Short-eared Owl: May use an IE of 0.9 km, which is based on an average breeding home range of 65 hectares.

Date: 26Feb2005
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Notes: Contains owls in the genera Otus, Glaucidium, Aegolius, Asio and Athene.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering individuals (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance larger than three times the diameter of an average home range for these volant species; based the diameter of larger home ranges of males, e.g. those of Northern Pygmy-Owls: in Washington 170-230 hectares (A. Giese, pers. comm., cited in Holt and Petersen 2000); in Sweden, averaged 231 hectares (Kullberg 1995).
Whiskered Screech-Owls had home ranges about 1550 meters long, along permanent creek (Gehlbach and Gehlbach 2000).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .6 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Conservatively based on a home range of 27 hectares; for example, a breeding male Northern Saw-whet Owl spent most of its active time in a 27-hectare core area (Cannings 1987).
Date: 16Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.

Use Class: Roost
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring, nonbreeding, communal roosting at a given location; reliable observation of multiple individuals roosting in a distinct habitat patch in multiple years. To avoid creating EOs for ephemeral situations, there should be evidence of communal roosting over at least two different (though not necessarily consecutive) nonbreeding seasons.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is arbitrary. Pertinent biologically based separation criteria do not exist.
Date: 25Oct2012
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 06Oct2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and R. J. Keith; modified by Jue, Dean K.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 18Jun2011
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Alabama Ornithological Society. 2006. Field checklist of Alabama birds. Alabama Ornithological Society, Dauphin Island, Alabama. [Available online at http://www.aosbirds.org/documents/AOSChecklist_april2006.pdf ]

  • Allen, C. R., S. Demarais, and R. S. Lutz. 1994. Red imported fire ant impact on wildlife: an overview. The Texas Journal of Science 46(1):51-59.

  • American Ornithologists Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pages.

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