Habitat, annual cycle and food of burrowing owls in Southcentral New Mexico

TitleHabitat, annual cycle and food of burrowing owls in Southcentral New Mexico
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1969
AuthorsBest TRafferty
Number of Pages34
Date Published1969
UniversityNew Mexico State University
CityLas Cruces, New Mexico
Thesis TypeM.S. Thesispp
Call Number00018
Keywordsbehavior,birds, bird, also SEE common name, bird, Burrowing owl, Burrowing owl, food, Burrowing owl, habitat, Burrowing owl,life cycle, dissertation, dissertations, theses, thesis
AbstractBurrowing Owls were studied in Dona Ana and Luna counties of southcentral New Mexico from March, 1964 until November, 1967. Six major study areas were established and observations were made throughout this area. Evidence indicated that the habitat of Burrowing Owls was dependent on the time of year, the breeding status of the birds, and whether the breeding birds were in isolated pairs or groups. Therefore, habitat factors varied between solitary owls, single breeding pairs, and colonies. The solitary owls were found to be practically unrestricted in habitat. Single breeding pairs were found in small isolated areas of colony habitat. Colonies were restricted to yucca grassland with burrows of Dipodomys spectabilis. The daily activity periods varied from nocturnal in winter to diurnal in summer. Seasonal activities such as courtship, nest preparation, nesting, rearing of young, colony break-up, molt, and migration were studied and a general timetable for these events is presented. Food was studied using the owl pellets as an indicator. It was found that the major food taken from summer through fall was insects and arachnids. Mammals and reptiles were also eaten, but in lesser amounts. Variations in diet were found generally to correlate with variations of abundance of prey species.