What Do Burrowing Owls Eat?


Burrowing owls have a diverse diet that primarily consists of insects and small mammals.

They mainly feed on large insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, moths, and beetles, as well as small rodents like mice and ground squirrels.

In addition to insects and rodents, burrowing owls also consume amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. 

They are opportunistic feeders and may eat any prey small enough for them to attack safely. 

In some cases, they have also been known to eat fruits and seeds.

These owls employ various hunting techniques, such as hovering above the ground in search of prey, hunting from a perch, or catching insects in flight. 

They are active during the day, but tend to avoid the midday heat and are most active near sunrise and sunset.

How Do Burrowing Owls Hunt For Insects In Flight?

Burrowing owls use several hunting methods to catch their prey, including swooping down from perches and surprising prey, hovering over open areas, running along the ground to chase prey down, and capturing prey with their talons.

They are quick and can even snatch flying insects from mid-air.

Although they can fly, they prefer to hunt on foot, pursuing their prey.

They may fly up to catch an insect in mid-air or fly down to pounce on an unsuspecting rodent.

They may even chase after their prey on foot in open fields.

Sometimes, burrowing owls hunt and locate prey from an elevated perch before descending to the ground and walking, hopping, or running after the prey.

Are There Any Specific Types Of Amphibians Or Reptiles That Burrowing Owls Prefer To Eat?

Burrowing owls have a varied diet that includes small birds, reptiles, fish, rodents, large insects, scorpions, and other birds.

However, there is no specific information on whether there are any particular types of amphibians or reptiles that burrowing owls prefer to eat.

Do Burrowing Owls Consume Fruits And Seeds As A Regular Part Of Their Diet, Or Is It More Occasional?

Burrowing owls are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of invertebrates, especially insects, but they also eat small vertebrates such as lizards, birds, and mammals.

They may also feed on snakes, frogs, and amphibians.

According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, their diet includes small birds, reptiles, fish, rodents, and large insects.

The Audubon Field Guide notes that their diet varies with season and location.

Burrowing owls are known to eat fruits and seeds occasionally but it is not a regular part of their diet.

What Are Some Adaptations Or Unique Characteristics Of Burrowing Owls That Help Them Catch Small Mammals Like Mice And Ground Squirrels?

Burrowing owls have several adaptations and unique characteristics that help them catch small mammals like mice and ground squirrels.

Here are some of them:

  • Long legs: Burrowing owls have long legs that enable them to pursue their prey on foot as well as in flight. They can sprint during hunting, which is useful in open grasslands where they live.
  • Night vision and acute hearing: Although burrowing owls are often active during the day, they do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn, using their night vision and acute hearing to full advantage.
  • Hunting methods: Burrowing owls hunt by a variety of methods, including swooping down from a perch, running down prey along the ground, and pursuing it on foot. They hunt near sunrise and sunset.
  • Carbon dioxide tolerance: Burrowing owls have a higher tolerance for carbon dioxide than other birds, which is an adaptation found in other burrowing animals that spend long periods underground.
  • Bobbing behavior: When approached by humans, burrowing owls bob up and down, likely as a way to gauge their distance from those approaching, and then fly a short distance away.

Overall, burrowing owls are well adapted to catching small mammals like mice and ground squirrels.

Their long legs, night vision, acute hearing, and various hunting methods make them effective predators in their grassland habitats.

How Does The Activity Level Of Burrowing Owls Change Throughout The Day, And What Factors Influence Their Hunting Patterns?

The activity level of burrowing owls changes throughout the day, and their hunting patterns are influenced by several factors.

Here is what the search results suggest:

Activity Level:

  • Burrowing owls tend to hunt insects during the day and small mammals at night.
  • They have several hunting methods, including hunting from a perch such as a mound or fence post, running after insects, hovering close to the ground, and fly-catching in mid-air.

Factors Influencing Hunting Patterns:

  • Burrowing owls rely on some mammals, such as ground squirrels, to help them survive.
  • They primarily use ground foraging to capture prey.
  • They may hunt from a perch, swoop down from a height, hover over fields, or run along the ground to catch prey.
  • They tend to hover over tall vegetation and fly-catch in mid-air when hunting insects.
  • Burrowing owls live in wide-open, sparsely vegetated areas.

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