Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Elmer J. Finck
The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a common occupant of Smoky Valley Ranch located in Logan County, Kansas, where the abundance of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) burrows provides ideal habitat for the Burrowing Owl. The objectives of the study were to 1) estimate the densities of black-tailed prairie dog colonies through visual counts, 2) estimate nesting success and nest survival probabilities of the Burrowing Owl with the use of a burrow camera, and 3) estimate post-fledging dispersal and return rate of juvenile Burrowing Owl the following season. I located 96 potential nests from 24 March through 2 July 2007 and 64 potential nests from 28 May through 11 August 2008. Data collected at each nest burrow included a GPS location, clutch size, number of nestlings, number of juveniles fledged, bearing of nest burrow entrance, and 5 nearest habitable bearings of non-nest burrows. Juveniles also were trapped and banded. In 2007 mean clutch size equaled 5.16, mean number of nestlings equaled 2.43, mean number of fledged individuals equaled 2.61, apparent nest success was 33%, and Mayfield nest success was 67%. In 2008, mean clutch size equaled 4.05, mean number of nestlings equaled 2.79, mean number of fledged individuals equaled 2.56, apparent nest success was 39%, and Mayfield nest success was 57%. Densities of black-tailed prairie dog were then obtained on randomly selected locations within various colonies by using visual counts. Paired t-tests were used to compare Burrowing Owl nest success and survival probabilities to densities of black-tailed prairie dog and were found to be significant for Burrowing Owl nest success for 2007 (t = 12.966; df = 58; P < 0.001), 2008 (t = -8.247; df = 45; P < 0.001) and both years combined (t = -14.728; df = 104; P < 0.001) and Burrowing Owl nest survival probabilities for 2007 (t = 13.613; df = 58; P < 0.001), 2008 (t = -7.097; df = 45; P < 0.001) and both years combined (t = -13.770; df = 104; P < 0.001). A paired t-test, comparing Burrowing Owl nest success and nest burrow entrance bearing, was found to be significant for 2007 (t = 11.67; df = 26; P < 0.001), 2008 (t = 8.795; df = 21; P < 0.001), and both years combined ( t = -14.465; df = 49; P < 0.001).
Copyright 2012 Carol D. Grover-Mariner
Grover-Mariner, Carol D., "Burrowing Owl (Athene Cunicularia) Nesting Ecology In Western Kansas" (2012). Master's Theses. 116.