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Class Aves
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae


Athene sp.—Burrowing OwlsPleistocene regional distribution of Athene sp.

Wisconsin: Costeau Pit (Jefferson 1991a).

Literature. Jefferson 1991a.


Athene cunicularia—Burrowing OwlPleistocene regional distribution of Athene cunicularia

USFWS photograph of Athene cuniculariaSynonyms. Speotyto cunicularia.

These owls are active day and night. Their distribution is throughout the area where open habitat is found. Apparently numbers have dropped since prairie dog populations have been decimated by poisoning; abandoned prairie dog burrows seem to have been widely utilized for shelter and reproduction (Ligon 1961).

Fig. 1. Burrowing Owl. Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Athene cunicularia fossil and modern metatarsi

Fig. 2. Left and third from left: anterior and posterior views of the tarsometatarsus of a modern Burrowing Owl (UTEP 1286 from El Paso). Second from left and right, same views of UTEP 23-61 from Stalag 17, Dry Cave. The tendinal bridge (anterior near dorsal end) has been broken from the modern bone and both ends of the fossil specimen are slightly damaged. Metric scale.


Mid Wisconsin: McKittrick (Jefferson 1991a).

Mid Wisconsin-Holocene: Shelter Cave (Howard and Miller 1933).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Dark Canyon Cave (Howard 1971); Rancho La Brea (Stock and Harris 1992).

Mid/Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Jimenez Cave (Messing 1986); San Miguel Island (Guthrie 1998).

Late Wisconsin: Maricopa (Jefferson 1991a); Stalag 17 (Harris 1993c); U-Bar Cave (Harris 1993c).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Conkling Cavern (Howard and Miller 1933).

Literature. Guthrie 1998; Harris 1993c; Howard 1971; Howard and Miller 1933; Jefferson 1991a; Messing 1986; Stock and Harris 1992.


Last Update: 10 Feb 2014