Ask a Naturalist: Burrowing Owls

Are there burrowing owls in the park?

There are not burrowing owls within Hardberger Park, because the park lacks the right habitat. Burrowing owls like more open land with short grasses. The savanna in Hardberger Park is too small and contains tall grasses. Burrowing owls also like to use prairie dog dens as their burrow to nest. Prairie dogs require much of the same habitat as burrowing owls and occur more west of Hardberger Park. Burrowing owls will, however, use burrows dug by other mammals such as skunks and armadillos.

A lot of borrows that you see in the park today, especially on the NW Military side, have been there since before the park opened. A preliminary wildlife survey suggested those were old badger burrows, dug years ago when the area was once inhabited by badgers. We did put wildlife cameras up on these burrows for months and did get armadillos moving in and out of the burrows. It is hard to tell if those burrows were in fact dug by armadillos or from an earlier mammal no longer inhabiting the park. Badgers once roamed this area but have been pushed westward due to development and loss of habitat.