Cascades Raptor Center

Resident Raptor - Burrowing Owl


Linneaus Linnaeus  DNA-sexed as female, was found in Burns, Oregon in July 2005. Still an immature bird, she was hit by a car, resulting in multiple fractures of both the radius and ulna of the left wing. A veterinarian pinned both bones so that they would at least heal and the wing could be saved, but there was little hope of return to function. She was placed with us in September of 2005.
(Linnaeus is glove-trained.)  Adopt Linnaeus


Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Courtesy of Barbara Gleason A small, sandy-brown ground owl with long legs and a short tail. Head is speckled, with white eyebrows; dark collar on white throat; back is spotted and underside is barred. Flight is labored and undulating, usually close to the ground; frequently hovers. Often seen in the daytime, standing on open ground or near mounded burrow entrance. Frequently bobs up and down. No major coloration difference between the sexes, as with most raptors, but unlike other birds of prey, there is not much size difference between males and females.


Size - Length: 9-11" • Wing Span: 20-24" • Weight: 4.2-6.5 oz.

Status - Listed as a "species of special concern" in several states, including Oregon. Considered extirpated (wiped out) in the Willamette Valley.

Habitat - These ground dwelling owls keep to open country -- grassland and desert. Most often associated with prairie dog or ground squirrel colonies, taking over abandoned burrows of these rodents or of badger, skunk, or fox, extending them by digging with their beak and kicking out loose soil with their feet.

Diet - Hunt mostly in the early evening and into the night, but also by day. Their varied diet consists primarily of insects and small mammals, but they also go after small birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Often hover hunt in twilight hours.

Call - Have a high, dove-like call of coo-coo-hoo or coo-hoo; a tremulous chattering when alarmed; young owls are known for their 'rattlesnake rasp' warning call, which seems to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake.

Nesting - During breeding season, they live in loose colonies surrounded by bare ground or short grass. When not disturbed, those in nonmigrating populations will use the same burrow year after year.

Most Common Problems - As with all owls, the most common cause of injury is collision with vehicles. Also tangling in fences. Rodent poisoning campaigns and habitat destruction is common in ranchlands, where prairie dogs and ground squirrels are considered pests because their networks of burrows may pose a risk of leg injury to livestock.

  ANCA Member

Cascades Raptor Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Federal ID No. 93-1038827) dedicated to wildlife rescue and public education to enhance appreciation, respect, and stewardship of the natural world.


CRC logo art by Jeanne Hammond-Elliott.  Drawings by Barbara Gleason & Karl Edwards.  Photographic sources noted as provided.