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Wildlife Protection

Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Building homeless shelters for burrowing owls

Burrowing owls (a "species of special concern" in California) aren't nocturnal, and don't live in trees. They nest and roost in underground burrows abandoned by other animals, and these natural homes are becoming increasingly scarce. Even though transportation impacts to burrowing owl habitat have not occurred and mitigation of such impacts is not required, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has built 21 artificial burrowing owl nest boxes on the Johnson Canyon Restoration Site--a 52-acre site on Otay Mesa established to restore vernal pools and create new habitat for the federally endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly. To mimic natural burrows, crews used low-cost hardware-store materials (a hollow irrigation box for the artificial nest and two corrugated plastic pipes for entrance and exit tunnels). Owl-inhabitants are protected from noise, heat, and flooding. Their human-made homes even offer natural perches with "open views." And yes, the burrowing owls-including at least one pair of chicks-are starting to move in!
--Mar 23, 2009

Bruce April,, (619) 688-0107 or

This is a diagram of a human-made underground nest made for burrowing owls. The picture shows the earthen "mound" under which the nesting box is placed and the pipe entrance to the tunnel-home.
Photo by Photo by Caltrans
Lost habitats aren't a problem for burrowing owls here, thanks to artificial burrows built by the California Department of Transportation.

On Wetlands and Uplands - California
Updated: 12/12/2012
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