Billy Owls, Ground Owls, Long-legged Owls, Prairie Owls and Prairie Dog Owls
Distribution / Range & Status
The Burrowing Owls are widespread throughout grassland habitats, from North America where their range stretches from southern portions of western and central Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) south through western and central United States. Populations also exist in Louisiana and Florida, and the Caribbean islands.
Their range extends south through the western parts of Central America reaching as far south as southern Argentina. Their distribution in South America is patchy in the northwest through the Andes; but they are widely distributed from southern Brazil to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.
The average Burrowing Owl is slightly larger than an American Robin or about the size of a Meadowlark. They generally measure between 8.5 - 11 inches (21.6 - 28 cm); have a wingspan of 20 - 24 inches (50.8 - 61 cm); and weigh 6 - 7.5 oz (170.1 - 214 g).
Depending on the subspecies, the color of the bill ranges from dark yellow, yellowish to light greyish; and the markings on the chest and abdomen are white with variable brown spotting or barring.
The brown-colored head is round, with a flattened facial disc. They have prominent white eyebrows and a prominent white "chin" stripe that they expand and display during certain behaviors, such as a head bobbing when agitated.
The most unique physical feature is the length of their yellow legs, which separates them from other small owls. They also lack the ear tufts of most other owls. The wings are brown with white spotting. The upper plumage is barred; while other small owl species have a streaked upper plumage.