After my post about the squirrels last week, my friend Matt Hickner began telling me about his own wildlife experiences at his relatively new home in Bakersfield, California. They don’t have tree squirrels there (not really any trees, as its a desert). But they do have ground squirrels and friends.
Since Matt’s house was recently constructed in a new neighborhood, there are quite a few empty lots nearby, featuring lots of dry grasses and dirt, which give him prime critter viewing opportunities.
A couple of days ago, he posted this on Facebook:
In the vacant lot across from my house are burrows that the local ground squirrels dug. These burrows were also a great temptation for the endangered Western Burrowing Owls to occupy. I can see all of this activity from my home office so I clicked a few pictures of them this morning.
Yes, burrowing owls! I’ve always been fond of those, since they were the mascot of the school my brother and my friend Anita went to (Florida Atlantic University, all the way across the US from Matt).
I checked with my friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and sure enough, both those places are year-round burrowing owl habitat. Apparently the eastern burrowing owls have more white spots than the western ones, but they are the same species.