Burrowing Owl Conservation

Project Info

Project Description

Burrowing owls are an incredibly unique species and they are the only raptor in North America to nest exclusively underground. Burrowing Owl populations in California and North America still face the same primary threats they did three decades ago. Habitat loss, the prevalence of invasive plants, and the control of ground squirrels and other host burrowers have caused burrowing owls to decline across North America. In addition to dramatic declines over the last fifteen years, recent surveys have indicated burrowing owls in California have declined by as much as 36% in the Imperial Valley and by 28% in the San Francisco Bay-Delta region. This decline is on top of a 50%+ decrease in the San Francisco Bay-Delta region population observed from the early 1980s to 1993.

Our proven and successful efforts are needed more than ever to prevent further losses and restore breeding populations in urban and suburban environments where they have been or are currently being eliminated.

Visit our dedicated burrowing owl project website, Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, for more information on our programs and to explore our photos, videos and resources.

Here are just a few examples of how we’re helping:

  • Urban Bird’s Board advocated and successfully garnered the creation of the first 24-acre suburban preserve dedicated to burrowing owls in Contra Costa County in 2008. By 2013, the owl population has risen from 0 owls to 5 pairs that successfully fledged 26 young.
  • In 2011, Urban Bird garnered support amongst California non-profit organizations representing more than 209,000 individuals for a state-wide conservation strategy. In March 2012, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released updated mitigation guidelines for burrowing owls, the first and only update in the last 20 years. In September 2012, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officially recognized Scott Artis, Executive Director of Urban Bird, as being responsible for forcing the development and release of the state’s new mitigation guidelines to protect burrowing owls.
  • We’ve worked with other conservation groups, landowners, state and federal agencies, and local governments to protect urban and suburban burrowing owl populations from development and to safeguard and restore habitat.

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