The western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) is threatened in Mexico, endangered in Canada, and declining in most of the western United States. Most previous research has focused on burrowing owl breeding biology, and little is known about its winter ecology. We determined characteristics of roost sites used by western burrowing owls in southern Texas during winter. Data on 46 winter roost sites were collected from 15 November 2001 to 15 February 2002. Of these roost sites, 87% were located on agricultural land, 80% were along roads, and 74% were concrete, steel, or cast-iron culverts. Mean diameter (??SE) of roost site openings was 22 ?? 1.5 cm. Most roost sites (70%) were located on inaccessible private lands. Bare ground comprised 61% of ground cover within a 10-m radius of roost sites. We recommend that landowners and public-land managers should be encouraged to use smaller-diameter culverts when building roads or replacing old or damaged culverts and to graze livestock or mow around these culverts during winter.
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Characteristics of roost sites used by burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) wintering in Southern Texas