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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Burrowing owls Athene cunicularia have lower reproductive success in artificial burrows, compared to natural burrows

Published source details

Botelho E.S. & Arrowood P.C. (1998) The effect of burrow site use on the reproductive success of a partially migratory population of western burrowing owls. Journal of Raptor Research, 32, 233-240


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Provide artificial nesting sites for owls Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled trial in 1993-5 in arid shrubland in New Mexico, USA (Botelho & Arrowood 1998), found that burrowing owls Athene cunicularia (formerly Speoty cunicularia) nesting in artificial burrows produced significantly more nestlings, but significantly fewer fledglings than pairs in natural burrows (3.5 nestlings/pair and 1.5 fledglings/pair for eight pairs in artificial burrows vs. 2.2 nestlings/pair and 1.9 fledglings/pair for 59 natural burrows). Only 12 of 28 nestlings (43%) in artificial nests survived to fledging, with most being predated or cannibalised. Artificial burrows were constructed from a 19 l plastic bucket buried and connected to the surface with 5 m of 10 cm diameter PVC pipes. Both bucket and pipes had holes drilled in to ensure drainage.