Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Disappearing Habitat Mandates Bizarre Nest For These Burrowing Owls

©Bert Gildart: Throughout the years, Goodyear Tires have probably been used in many ways, but perhaps the most unique is the use an abandoned tractor tire is seeing just outside California’s  Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge. Right now, just a few miles from the refuge located near the Salton Sea, a pair of burrowing owls has laid eggs, incubated their young and seen them to the fledgling stage.


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IN WAKE OF HABITAT LOSS, BURROWING OWLS FACE UNUSUAL NESTING CHOICES, IN THIS CASE A GOODYEAR TRACTOR TIRE

 

Eric Hansen, an RV photographer friend whose acquaintance I made years ago through the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America, spotted them several days ago with his wife Sue. Happily they shared the finding with me and yesterday, Eric and I departed Pegleg and made the hour drive to the Salton Sea, where the owls were still surveying their world from beneath the side of the tire.

GOODYEAR TRACTOR TIRE

The choice of nesting sites is not one burrowing owls would naturally choose, but was made essentially because farmers have eliminated all species of mammals that create burrows, such as prairie dogs and the various ground squirrels.

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Anthony & Marguerite Breda, full time RVers and wildlife refuge volunteers.

Burrowing owls need burrows, but when they cannot find appropriate holes have to rely on something else, in the case the recess created by a discarded Goodyear tractor tire.

In some places wildlife managers are increasing the nesting habitat of burrowing owls by inserting plastic piping into the ground.

This, according to Anthony and Marguerite Breda, a couple who has been volunteering at wildlife refuges for about eight years, is helping.

Of course, they point out that natural habitat is best, and that is what the Sonny Bono Wildlife refuge still offers burrowing owls, something Marguerite knows about. Each morning she sees several pair nesting in the old fashion way — in the burrows created by the various ground squirrels.


ONE OF THE SMALLEST OF OWLS

Burrowing owls are one of the smallest species of owls, standing but nine inches-tall. It has a short tail, very long legs, and weighs but 4 oz.  When the owl sees something approaching its home, it bobs up and down a few times, and then dives into its burrow. Here, the owls breed in late winter, and the females lay around 6-8 eggs. Eggs take one month to hatch, and young owls remain in the nest for about 42 days before leaving.


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Burrowing owls on Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge, in natural habitat -- a burrow abandoned by a ground squirrel.

 

Burrowing owls are found in many places in the West and I’ve photographed them on the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana where they still find nesting opportunities from the holes which prairie dogs have abandoned. The ones shown here were photographed with Nikon Camera equipment and in several cases, an 800mm lens, which placed me well away from these two nests, that is the natural nest and the abandoned Good Year tire.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Desert Five Spot & Function of Beauty

 

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One Response to “Disappearing Habitat Mandates Bizarre Nest For These Burrowing Owls”

  1. Rich Charpentier Says:

    Wonderful photos Bert! What a find!!!

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