Tracy Aviary Welcomes Burrowing Owl Babies

There have been so many changes in our Aviary family this year. Among the best? Two new burrowing owl hatchlings have joined the Tracy Aviary Bird Show flock! The pair of siblings, Ruthie and Ginsberg, hatched at Lake Superior Zoo in Minnesota earlier this month and were brought to the Aviary a little over a week after they hatched. We are excited to welcome Ruthie and Ginsberg to the flock and are enjoying watching them get acquainted with our beloved burrowing owl star, Harriet.



Tracy Aviary coordinated with Lake Superior Zoo with permission from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Burrowing Owl Species Survival Program (SSP) to breed some babies to raise with Harriet, who was hatched at the Aviary earlier this year. Burrowing owls are a social species naturally, so to have them living in natural social groups will maximize good welfare for our birds. Although our Indoor Bird Show experience is not currently available due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, guests may be able to spot the pair of owls, along with Harriet, out on Aviary grounds with our staff.



Some fun facts about burrowing owls you may not know: 

  • They are one of the few species of owl that are active during the day as well as at night.
  • They are the only North American raptor that uses underground burrows to raise chicks. 
  • They are a locally native species and can be seen quite easily out in the wild because of their diurnal activity - Antelope Island is a good spot to see burrowing owls!
  • They hunt aerially (swooping down on prey) but also on the ground (chase and pounce) - those long legs give them some great speed for chasing prey on the ground (and it is so cute to watch them do it). 
  • Young burrowing owls, like Ruthie and Ginsberg, make a sound when they feel threatened that sounds like a rattlesnake - great defense!



Despite being beloved by many, owls face numerous conservation challenges. In some cases, threats to owls are well documented, such as negative impacts by rodenticide use. In many cases, however, scientists need to learn more about the status, population trends, and human-caused impacts to owls in order to develop effective conservation strategies. With funding provided by our partners at Young Living Essential Oils, Tracy Aviary’s Conservation Department has implemented a comprehensive, multi-species approach to owl conservation. With the help of our community science volunteers, we continue to complete owl surveys in urban parks, as well as monitor owl nest boxes at Alta to learn more about high-elevation cavity nesting owls.


To learn more about how you can get involved, click HERE.


For more owl fun with Ruthie, Ginsberg and Harriet, click HERE



- Mackenzy Johnson, Social Media Coordinator