This spring, observant birders in the Bitterroot Valley were surprised to see a pair of Burrowing Owls flying around a pasture.

The little owl (about the size of a robin) is not known to visit the Bitterroot Valley, preferring wide open spaces with lots of prairie dogs and such. In fact, the owls are known to take over ground squirrel burrows for nesting purposes, according to the Audubon Society.

But, there they were, on the ground, sharing a field with some cattle. And, suddenly there were more. Eggs hatched in June and new owls appeared.

burrowing owl family
Burrowing owl family. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)

Because of the rarity of the bird in the area, the nest location has been kept fairly quiet to limit disturbance of the young family.

owls playing
Owls playing. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)

Besides hunting at night, like other owls, the burrowing owl hunts during the daytime and is fond of insects and rodents. Their breeding area surrounds Western Montana, but not usually in this area. Yearlong, they can be found in the southern states.

Will they stay? Time will tell.

burrowing owl flies
Spreading its wings. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)

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