Friday, May 24, 2024
HomeWildlifeHey! That's no Bowerbird, it's a Burrowing Owl!

Hey! That’s no Bowerbird, it’s a Burrowing Owl!

With a number of documentaries hitting theaters, NatGeo, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and so forth over the past few years, I imagine most of us have now encountered the renowned courtship behaviors of the male Bowerbird.  As seen in the photo, they take on a fairly unique approach that may include rocks, plastics, shells, sticks and other brightly colored objects in an attempt to woo the fairer sex.  But with a travel distance of over 8,000 miles and a hectic schedule, planning a trip down under to experience the antics of Bowerbirds first hand is a few years away.  So I thought…

(Bowerbird) Credit: Ron_n_Beth,

After a prolonged date with destiny that is now approaching 3 years, my wife and I stepped into a suburban open space to rendezvous with nature as we have done so many times before.  It was during a nighttime walk four months back that we crossed paths with a Burrowing Owl who returned to a patch of land sandwiched between all the fixings of suburbia. From that first sighting, we made it routine to stop by for a short visit and even celebrated the appearance of his mate.

And that’s when the species line between Bowerbird and Burrowing Owl began to blur.  Sure we have seen plenty of owls decorating burrows with dried frogs, trash, foil, bones, and even dog and coyote dung, but this particular male took design to a meticulous level as he created an ornate burrow entrance complete with hardwood floors made of bark.

North America’s Western Burrowing Owl may not be quite at the same level as the Bowerbird in terms of design aptitude, but they should definitely take notice that there’s an up and coming contractor taking the stage in the world of birds.  Here are a few other burrow pictures for the design portfolio. Enjoy!


Check out the dried frogs. We counted 15 in all decorating this burrow entrance.
Scott Artis
Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.


    • This pair is just a short walk up the street along a canal and paved trail. We monitor it frequently because people let their dogs off leash and many neighborhood cats. They seem to be doing OK for the moment as building is still on hold for the most part. I am getting a little concerned about Brentwood so I plan to address the City Council to minimze impacts.


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