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Human-Built Burrows

Dreams and Schemes
for Napa County burrowing owls November, 2007

Joyce Bender contacted Burrowing Owl Preservation with some “dreams and schemes” to install artificial burrows in Napa County. She had seen wintering burrowing owls in Napa. Joyce said, “You gotta love a little guy that tries so hard”.  Most burrowing owl population and distribution data indicates burrowing owls are extirpated from Napa County. When Joyce called Catherine she was researching artificial burrow design and installation.

Pahlmeyer Vineyards donated some drainage tubing with which Joyce created a new burrow design.  In classic research method, Joyce planned to install a “control” burrow near her new design burrow (with expanded entrance cover for avian predator protection) and observe for the owl’s preference.

Two land owners, Bill (“a cranky old fart with a soft spot for birds”) and Patricia Hardin and Pat Meade, agreed to host the artificial burrows. Hardin and Meade had observed a wintering burrowing owl using squirrel burrows in their cattle pastures. Hardin and Meade have volunteered to observe not only for occupancy but how the cattle respond to the disturbed ground and the cinder block tubing end protectors.

Joyce recruited two local birders, Phil Burton and Guy Kay to help with the installation and monitoring.  Joyce’s hard working husband, Brian, was yeoman with a drilling agar which got us through some tough rocks while Phil and Guy powered through the heavy work using a pick ax and six foot steel pry bar! It is amazing how hard people will work for burrowing owls!

We are all excited and grateful to Joyce And Company for the burrow design and cattle response research opportunity. We will post any news on BOPS’ web site.







Install two entrances and exits so owls
can escape if a predator does enter