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Friday, October 1, 2010

California's burrowing owl-population moves towards extinction

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Increasing human population followed by habitat destruction is driving many species of bird and animals towards extinction. So is happening with the burrowing owls also.

Burrowing owls are mostly found from Mississippi to the Pacific, and from Canadian Prairie Provinces into South America. They are found in Florida and the Caribbean islands also. From much of their historic ranges, now the burrowing owls have disappeared completely.

A burrowing owl is not an average owl because it does not live in trees nor does it make nest by its own. It usually lives in burrows of small mammals like rodents and remains active, unlike common owls, both during days and nights. There was a time when these owls were described as California’s one of the most common birds. But it has been reported that their population declined considerably (by as much as 27 percent) just within a few years. Now ornithologists report that the population of burrowing owls is declining through out the Golden State and the latest data call for their immediate protection under the Endangered Species Act of California- points out the Center for Biological Diversity, New Mexico.

Image -1: Burrowing Owl (Wikipedia)

Image -2

The Center for Biological Diversity reports -Results from a newly released survey had some alarming news for California's largest burrowing owl population: Numbers in Imperial Valley dropped 27 percent between 2007 and 2008. Burrowing owls are in decline throughout the Golden State, and the latest data from Imperial Valley adds to the evidence that these ground-nesting, sandy-colored owls are in desperate need of protection under California's Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned for state listing in 2003, but the California Fish and Game Commission rejected our petition after a highly controversial assessment by the state's Department of Fish and Game. Later, it was revealed that the Department had suppressed agency biologists' opinion that the owl should be considered for endangered or threatened state status.

Burrowing owls in the Imperial Valley, which nest almost entirely in ground-squirrel burrows along earthen irrigation canals and drains, represent nearly half of California's breeding pairs. The Imperial population was down to 3,557 breeding pairs in 2008. "Breeding owls have been eliminated from a quarter of their former range in California over the past two decades as their habitat has been destroyed and they've been shoved aside for urban development," said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate at the Center. "It's now uncertain whether owls will persist in areas where they were thought to be secure, including the Imperial Valley."

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