In 2017, Audubon Arizona and dedicated volunteers released 60 Burrowing Owls across the Rio Salado, Laveen, Maricopa, and San Tan Valley; 200 artificial burrows were constructed in these areas to provide suitable housing for displaced owls. 608 elementary school students learned about the owl and its challenges last semester through Downtown Owls in-class presentations.
On March 2, a release tent was constructed along the Rio Salado to house and acclimate ten displaced Burrowing Owls to a new habitat and artifical burrows. Audubon Arizona staff have been feeding the owls every day. A female could be heard begging for food from within one of the burrows as she sat on her eggs, and her mate would respond by bringing a dead rat over to the burrow's entrance. The tent will be coming down on March 30, and the owls are then free to move into new burrows throughout the Rio Salado or stay in their current homes.
This work, made possible by Audubon, Wild At Heart, corporate groups, and a community of volunteers, has successfully expanded into Maricopa, Laveen, San Tan Valley, Coolidge, and Pearce— spreading the impact and strengthening habitat for this vulnerable owl across the state.
Audubon's Downtown Owls program has been receiving support from beyond Arizona, too. Dejeanne Doublet from New Mexico State University has been collecting data on our relocated Burrowing Owls, and will conclude her two year study this summer. Her research will help to refine the release protocol for higher success rates, and deepen understanding for this species.
You can be a part of the movement to help Burrowing Owls, too! Be on the lookout for Conservation Workdays building burrows or release tents this spring or next fall. If you're a teacher, schedule an in-class presentation on Burrowing Owls. Or, spread awareness and understanding of the species, and take your friends and family to visit the burrows. Audubon Arizona is also looking for funding to allow us to continue offering our popular Downtown Owls in-class presentations free of charge.
If you'd like to pledge your support, email George Martinez or call 602-468-6470 ext. 121.