English and Scientific names:

Burrowing Owl

Athene cunicularia

Number of individuals: 

2, age and sex unknown



Specific Locality:

west side of Belle Pass, landward side of jetties

Date(s) when observed:

6 Feb. 2010. Seen during plover surveys with BTNEP.

Time(s) of day when observed:  

appx. 5 pm

Reporting observer and address:

B. Mac. Myers III
Eunice, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Dean Blanchard (of BTNEP) and Melvin Weber

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

pretty good, we were looking more or less north and the birds flew to the west

Optical equipment: 

10x42 Eagle optics, very good

Distance to bird(s): 

flushed from close, maybe 20 yds. from me, closer to Dean, flew out of sight behind vegetation to west along inner strip of dunes

Duration of observation:

the birds flushed separately; in each case I got on the bird immediately and stayed on it until it disappeared from view--maybe 3-4 seconds each??


scrubby beach habitat behind (that is, the landward side) jetties; plenty of junk, driftwood, scrubby vegetation, open and semi-open sandy patches

Behavior of bird: 

In both cases, Dean was a little ahead of us, as we were scouting out spots to cross the rocks for a place along the channel where Richard DeMay could pick us up in the boat. Dean flushed one bird, then moments later the second. In both cases the bird flushed from the ground (or perhaps a low object on the ground) and flew low to the west behind vegetaton, but really not that far away. I did not pursue either bird because we were trying to wrap things up and find a place where we could get to the channel and where Richard could get the boat in to pick us up.


Really not much seen, and in both cases it was the same. Really the two observations were essentially identical. Obviously an owl by the proportionately large, globular head and broad rounded wings. Size much smaller than Barn, Short-eared, etc. An in-between sized owl which appeared larger then a screech-owl, especially appeared longer behind the wings, but couldn't say if that is longer tail, legs, or both. The color of the upperparts, both wings and back, was without any obvious markings--that is, the spotting/streaking and background color combined to produce a relatively uniform speckled buff-brown appearance--certainly unlike Short-eared/Long-eared. Color unlike Barn, and subtly unlike screech. This is a pretty lousy description for a review list bird, but Burrowing Owl, even in flight, is really distinctive. And, of course, the habitat was appropriate.


not heard

Similar species:

See description above.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?


Previous experience with this species: 

Over the years a fair number in LA, most recently in Dec. 2009 in Holly Beach; also birds out west

Identification aids:

none; later looked at the usual guides mostly out of curiosity about relative proportions, length behind wing, etc.

This description is written from: 

very brief notes made at time

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 



Date and time: 

16 Feb. 2010