• Stand about 9½ inches (23 cm) tall
  • Weigh about 150 grams (about as much as a half can of pop)
  • Brown feathers with white spots
  • No ear tufts
  • Bright yellow eyes
  • Long, featherless legs
  • Adults have speckled chests (males and females are almost identical in appearance), chicks have solid, buffy-coloured chests
  • Found on the ground (not in trees)
  • Nest underground (if you can see the eggs, it's not a burrowing owl nest!)
  • Closely associated with ground squirrel, badger and prairie dog burrows


Usually quiet, although they do have several vocalizations:

  • mainly during the spring (when calling for mates) they'll give a "coo-coo" call
  • when disturbed, adults give loud, aggressive alarm calls
  • when chicks are disturbed in the nest they have an alarm call that sounds like a rattlesnake!