The Western Burrowing Owl is a small, brown and white barred owl that stands 8-10 inches tall. Burrowing Owls may be present in any areas with ground squirrel burrows or artificial burrows on flat ground, hillsides or low embankments. The best time of the day to observe the species is during early morning and early evening hours when they actively hunt by running, pouncing and hovering over prey.
During nesting season (February 1 through August 31), male owls decorate their mates’ nest burrows with animal dung, paper, dry grass and other debris. Females may lay between six and 11 white eggs which they incubate underground for about 28 days. The young are fed by both parents until they are able to fly and forage independently. Burrowing Owls show strong site fidelity and may return to the same burrow over a period of several years.
Protect the low-flying Burrowing owl and other species at Shoreline by observing the 25 mph speed limit when driving through the park, stay on pathways and use caution when viewing the charming Western Burrowing owl from afar.
The Burrowing Owl is a Species of Special Concern protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the "taking of active nests, eggs, young or adults." The owl is also protected under the Fish and Game Code, Sections 3503, 3503.5, 3513, and 3800. Prior to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) construction projects, surveys are conducted to determine if owls are foraging or nesting on or adjacent to project sites.
In 1998, the City of Mountain View formally implemented the first of two Burrowing Owl Management Plans to ensure the safety and success of this "Species of Special Concern."
The City is currently working to create a new "Burrowing Owl Preservation Plan" to provide staff with additional information regarding the owls including their environmental needs and how to increase the species' population while completing necessary maintenance. The City continues to employ a part-time Burrowing Owl Specialist who monitors the owls, improves their habitat and pre-approves maintenance projects to limit the impacts on the owls according to state and federal regulations.
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