Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Burrowing Owl, Bird of the Year 2013: Portrait of a Champion

Burrowing Owl
Berkeley, California, USA
Member of the True Owl Family
§A Parliament of Owls§

The Burrowing Owl occupies an interesting evolutionary niche that both endangers it and assists in its long-term survival. They live in open grassy fields, which are generally perfect places to build stuff. Hence, the Burrowing Owl is endangered in Canada, Threatened in Mexico, and a species of special concern in Florida and most of the west, including my own California.

However, he finds sanctuary in some unusual places. Golf courses and airports, both of which people build in abundance, have been known to attract these guys in significant numbers due to their similarity with the owl's natural habitat. Furthermore, they're doing just fine in Central and South America, where the clear-cutting of the rain forest is actually increasing the size of their habitat.

Unlike most owls, this guy is active all day and all night. He catches ground based prey by running after it with his long legs, or swooping down from low perches. He basically eats everything, and even lures insects to his burrow (which, sometimes are dug by other animals, but that he can dig himself) using animal droppings.

With this intriguing background, is it any wonder that Burrowing Owl is 2013's Bird of the Year, as named by California's Audubon Society? No, it is not any wonder. Your Amateurnithologist was granted a rare interview session with Burrowing Owl following his victory, and found out that he's much more than a pretty face. Burrowing Owl has a sharp, brooding intelligence to him that you wouldn't expect. And you can't argue with success.

Burrowing Owl states that his motivation is not just to entertain and delight. Owling is art, he feels, and he hopes that people really think about his work. He hopes to take on more challenging, independent projects in the future.

Burrowing Owl had strong words for 'haters' that your blogger will not repeat here. He also doesn't like when people call him 'cute', 'fluffy wuffy', or 'a little cutie'. Burrowing Owl feels that his success is earned, frequently pointing out that he "started from the bottom." He expressed love and appreciation for his fans. "I couldn't have done it without you, you're the reason I do what I do when I do what I do" he stated. 

Burrowing Owl, congratulations! You are Bird of the Year 2013.

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