Nest Lining Behavior, Nest Microclimate, and Nest Defense Behavior of Burrowing Owls

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Raptor Biology



Major Advisor

James R. Belthoff


This thesis consists of three chapters describing my studies of nest-lining behavior, nest microclimate, and nest defense behavior of burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) in southwestern Idaho. My research objectives were to (1) determine patterns of use and the function of livestock dung in burrowing owl nests, (2) evaluate nest micro climates and associated effects on reproductive success for burrowing owls nesting in artificial burrow systems, and (3) examine effects of food availability, parent sex, nestling age, and brood size on intensity of nest defense by burrowing owls. I conducted my field studies during the spring and summer of 2001 and 2002 in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and adjacent lands. Information contained in this thesis should be of particular interest to those investigating nesting behavior, ecophysiology, or parental investment in avian species and to biologists involved with research, management, and conservation of burrowing owls.

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