A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to help band several burrowing owls. As the name suggests, these owls nest in underground burrows. They are also one of the few owls that can often be seen during the day.
And they aren't very big. One birder compared them to the size of a pop can, which is pretty accurate.
Most of the owls we were able to capture and band were juveniles, just hatched this year, but the adults aren't really much bigger.
Burrowing owls don't dig their own burrows. They use existing burrows, either naturally formed, or excavated previously by another ground dwelling animal, such as a badger. They will also readily use man-made structures, such as underground nest boxes.
To trap the young, we placed a "live trap" in the entrance of the burrow with entrance flaps that only open inward. So as the owls emerge from the burrow, they walk right into the cage but can't get back out.
Once trapped, we carefully remove them one at a time.
Each owl is carefully given a leg band, and then weighed.
|Receiving a leg band|
|Recording banding information|
The purpose for banding the owls is to monitor their migration, lifespan, nesting success rate, etc.
They also make good candidates for photographing.