Owl v. Squirrels

The Burrowing Owl on the north side is a feisty creature. We saw it back off a marauding Cooper’s Hawk and drive away a gang of American Crows. Here it sends a couple of Ground Squirrels on their way by puffing up and making itself look big and fierce.

Owls and squirrels are close neighbors here. The Burrowing Owl needs the Ground Squirrel to dig a burrow or two that the owl can borrow as its refuge for the winter season. The owl is a visitor, really a squatter, in the squirrels’ home. Its perch is in the mouth of a pair of squirrel burrows, and it ducks into them when threatened. Apart from the occupancy issue, owls and squirrels don’t have a conflict. The owl is a carnivore, but the squirrels are much too big for it; its preferred diet is beetles, caterpillars, and worms. The squirrels are vegetarian. The squirrels have plenty of relatives nearby that they can move in with. So, the two mostly ignore one another. But, as the video shows, sometimes the squirrels get inquisitive. Are you still there? Are you keeping our condo clean? (The owls are messy.) When the squirrels get too nosy, the owl backs them off with this scary display. It works most of the time, but not always. You can see more owl v. squirrel encounters in the 24-minute video, The Owls Came Back.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) confronting squirrel
Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) confronting squirrel

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