Common Name: Burrowing Owl, Shoco
Scientific Name: Athene cunicularia
Subspecies: The 18 recognised subspecies, of which two are now extinct.
Description: Burrowing owls have bright eyes; their beaks can be dark yellow or gray depending on the subspecies. They lack ear tufts and have a flattened facial disc. The owls have prominent white eyebrows and a white “chin” patch which they expand and display during certain behaviors, such as a bobbing of the head when agitated.
Adults have brown heads and wings with white spotting. Their chests and abdomens are white with variable brown spotting or barring, also depending on the subspecies. Juvenile owls are similar in appearance, but they lack most of the white spotting above and brown barring below. The juveniles have a buff bar across their upper wings and their breasts may be buff-colored rather than white. Burrowing owls of all ages have grayish legs longer than those of other owls.
Distribution: Burrowing owls range from the southern portions of the western Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) and all the way through Mexico to western Panamá.
Habitat: Western Burrowing Owls can be found throughout Nevada. They require habitats that support burrowing mammals as they do not excavate their own burrows but in instead inhabit abandoned burrows. Areas with short vegetation, open grasslands, sagebrush, and even vacant lots near humans are all considered optimum habitat for the Western Burrowing Owl.