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Burrowing Owl Protection

Recent estimates by the Institute for Bird Populations suggest that the Burrowing Owl is declining throughout the state. The San Francisco Bay Area, historically one of four primary Burrowing Owl nesting areas in California, has suffered steep population declines in recent years. Once a common sight in the Bay Area, the number of these owls has now declined to only forty pairs.

Our Environmental Advocate, Shani Kleinhaus, and the Environmental Action Committee have been diligently advocating for the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the Burrowing Owl and its habitat in our cities along the bay.

Watch our award-winning Burrowing Owl documentary.

Mountain View efforts

Preservation Plan. SCVAS continues to work with the City of Mountain View to implement the Shoreline Burrowing Owl Preservation Plan to increase the number of owls at the Shoreline Park. This plan, adopted in 2012, has a revolutionary approach to the preservation of this vulnerable species that can be adopted as a model for other cities. Read articles about this plan written in March-April 2012: Mountain View council signals support for Shoreline owl preserve from the San Jose Mercury News, plus New hope for city's burrowing owls and Owls have friends at City Hall both from the Mountain View Voice.

New Burrowing Owl habitat in Mountain View
New Burrowing Owl habitat created in Mountain View

Habitat Creation. SCVAS, the City of Mountain View, and students of San Jose State University restored Burrowing Owl habitat at Shoreline Park. This work was initiated with support from the Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen Initiative. Read more about how the TogetherGreen Fellowship Promotes Conservation Action and Conservation Leadership.

San Jose efforts

Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). SCVAS is helping to implement the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan.

Habitat monitoring. The San Jose Municipal Code restricts discing, plowing, or breaking soil on any property greater than two acres. These activities destroy existing nests and potential nesting sites. While these activities are prohibited, the city does not possess the resources to monitor adherence to this policy. SCVAS volunteers monitor and report violations to the city, which greatly reduce violations.

Water Pollution Control Plant Buffer Lands. SCVAS is advocating that a Burrowing Owl enhancement plan be implemented on the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) buffer lands. More...

In the News

• Like many groups of old-time Silicon Valley residents before them, the burrowing owl is being forced out of the Bay Area, a victim of the latest technology boom.
The Wall Street Journal, October 2011. Read (PDF).

• As Mountain View's population of burrowing owls is dwindling, authorities are being prodded to approve a new plan to save them. Despite a successful breeding season this year, it appears that the owls are barely hanging on.
Mountain View Voice, September 2011. Read.

• Our Burrowing Owl documentary wins award. Caroline Armer's and Jonathan Armer's documentary Reversing the Trend wins top documentary award from CreaTV in the Student: 13-18 category!
CreaTV San Jose, January 2011. Read.


Updated July 2012

Burrowing Owl © Tom Grey
Help Burrowing Owls © Tom Grey

Burrowing Owl Consortium 2013

In March 2013 SCVAS organized and Intuit sponsored a conference to discuss the current status of the Western Burrowing Owl in California. Presentations included:

Owls in a Changing World, Lynn Trulio
Expanding the Conservation Community, Scott Artis
What's for Dinner?, Trulio and Higgins
Photographic Documentation for Environmental Stewardship, Greg Kerekes
Predation in the South Bay, Lisa Anne Henderson
Owl Preservaiton Society, Portman
Prewett Park: Model for Urban Owl Conservation, Matt Ricketts
Managing a Population of Owls, Phil Higgins
Survey Results in SCV, Jack Barclay

How you can help!

• SCVAS organized the Burrowing Owl Advocates to preserve and enhance local burrowing owl populations. Contact our SCVAS Environmental Advocate at to volunteer and speak or write to advocate the land protection, monitor owl populations, and educate the public about the plight of the Burrowing Owl.

• You can help with these or other projects that interest you by becoming a Volunteer for Conservation. We have many ways that you can help from simply speaking out as part of our Conservation Action Alert Network to joining our Environmental Action Committee (EAC).

• Make a tax-deductible donation to support this and other local conservation efforts.

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