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Breakfast for Three Little Burrowing Owlets


Three Burrowing Owlets recently hatched at the Sacramento Zoo. These fluffy little ones will grow to weigh anywhere between 4.5-9 ounces, and become 7.5 - 10 inches tall with a wingspan of 21 - 24 inches! Males of this species are slightly heavier and have a longer wingspan than the females, which is not the norm with most owls.

Found in dry, open areas with low vegetation like deserts, grasslands, farms, and even golf courses and vacant lots in urban areas, this species hunts either while on the ground or by swooping down from a perch. They will also catch bugs while in flight. In addition to insects, they eat small mammals and at times supplement their diet with reptiles and amphibians. 

Not so for these chicks at the moment. Keeper Maureen Cleary dedicates herself to diligently feeding each Owlet. First she weighs out the amount of food that is appropriate for them at this weight and age, then patiently feeds them one bite at a time from medical scissors, which mimic a beak, just like their own mother would. The Owlets instinctually know what to do, even when their eyes were closed, as seen in the video below, where the chicks are just six days old. 


Photo Credit: Mike Owyang

Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) list it as a Bird of Conservation Concern at the national level. At the state level, Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Minnesota, Threatened in Colorado, and as a Species of Concern in Arizona, California, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming 

In the video below, notice that each chick has a colored dot on their little heads. This is temporary, used so the keeper can distinguish them from each other:

See many more pictures of the Owlets after the fold: