Great Basin Naturalist


A burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) population nesting on the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in southeastern Idaho utilized burrows excavated by badgers (Taxidea taxus) or natural cavities in lava flows as nesting sites. The size of the population was small (N = 13–14 pairs) in relation to the number of available nesting sites, suggesting that factors other than burrow availability limited this population. Rodents and Jerusalem crickets (Stenopelmatus fuscus) represented the primary prey utilized during the nesting season. This population demonstrated both a numerical (brood size) and functional (dietary) response to a decrease in the density of three species of rodents on the INEL during a drought in 1977.